People in Kashmir allege poor facility at quarantines

People arriving in Kashmir complain of poor arrangements at quarantine centres

They alleged that they were not properly screened at Srinagar Airport but were sent to unhygienice quarantine centres

 A Jammu Municipal Corporation health worker fumigates an area as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus at Government Medical College hospital in Jammu, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Hundreds of travelers, including students, who have arrived in Jammu and Kashmir from other countries, primarily from Bangladesh, complained of poor arrangements at the quarantine centres where they have been put in.

They alleged that they were not properly screened at the Srinagar Airport but were sent to quarantine centres where they are being bundled in unhygienic rooms. “We have been kept with those who have returned from Italy, Iran and UK. In a big unhygienic hall, it seems we may die till our quarantine is completed,” a student, who returned from Bangladesh told DH over phone.

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“It is not like everyone who returned from outside countries is infected, but they are treating us as COVID-19 suspects and have put around two dozen people in one room,” he added.

The parents of students, who returned from Bangladesh, alleged that the administration was dealing with the issue in a casual manner and “risking the lives of their wards.” They alleged the students and other passengers who arrived at Srinagar airport from UK or Italy were bundled in one vehicle and sent to one single quarantine centre.  

“Bangladesh is not in the list of affected countries but our children are unnecessarily caged. If they have not screened them why are they are being suspected,” they asked. Nonetheless, a few positive cases have been reported from Bangladesh.

“As per WHO guidelines, isolation and hygiene are basic preventive measures to be taken to avoid spread of COVID-19 but no such measures were being taken by the administration,” a parent said.

Even relatives of those students, who are returning from other states of the country, said that their children were not allowed to leave the airport and asked to report at quarantine centers. “My cousins returned from Delhi on Saturday and they are still at Srinagar airport. The authorities have asked them to report at quarantine center,” Umar Farooq, a resident of uptown Baghat, told DH.

However, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang Kondbarao Pole said that anyone with foreign travel history was taken to quarantine centres and kept under observation.

“Isolation and observation are different. Isolation means one person is kept in one room and it applies for those who have tested positive or have developed symptoms,” he said. “And people who are under observation can be kept in groups. It does not affect anyone. They are given treatment and shifted for isolation only if they develop symptoms of COVID-19," he said.

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