Students' parents accuse J&K admin of flouting WHO

Students' parents accuse Jammu and Kashmir admin of flouting WHO, govt norms on coronavirus

The parents of students who returned to Kashmir from Bangladesh are at loggerheads with the authorities in the Valley over the issue of quarantine, as the former have alleged that the administration was flouting the WHO and Central government guidelines related to COVID-19.

Around 200 students from the Valley who have returned from Bangladesh in the last few days were isolated at the Srinagar airport and taken to various quarantine facilities set up by the administration.

The officials at some of the quarantine facilities said the parents, many of them influential, were putting pressure on them to release their wards from quarantine.

However, the parents have alleged that the facilities were not well-equipped and the administration was flouting the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and various ministries of the Central Government.

"The guidelines clearly say that these students have to be home quarantined. Why are they being taken to some facility which is against these guidelines," one of the parents said, wishing not to be identified.

He said the quarantine facilities for the students were not well equipped and in some cases even lacked basic amenities.

"They are facing various issues like food, infrastructure, etc. These facilities are not well equipped," he said.

Another parent said the students at these facilities were being kept together rather than isolated which increased the chances of infection.

"Bundling them together like this is only going to increase the chances of infection. If anyone of them has infection, then the others are likely to catch that," he said.

A reputed doctor at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) here – the Valley's premier tertiary care hospital – said the measure taken by the administration was not in consonance with the guidelines laid down by the Central government.

"I can tell you what they are doing viz-a-viz these students from Bangladesh is not in consonance with the advisories and guidelines of the Government of India, it is against those advisories. I think there is some confusion in the administration as these kids need not be quarantined at some facility. They have to be home quarantined,” the doctor, wishing anonymity, told PTI.

Saying that the administration has "compounded" the issue, the doctor expressed apprehensions that the students travelling from foreign countries would hide their travel history because of such actions.

"Now that these students are wary that they will be taken to some quarantine facility rather than home, many of them may hide their travel history or take surface transport or things like that. This has compounded the issue. The administration unfortunately is stretching its resources," he said.

Asked whether there were chances of spreading more infection by way of holding the students together at a facility, the doctor said "definitely".

"They are imperiling their (students') health," he added.

An official in the Srinagar administration said the authorities had "invented" a problem where none existed.

"It is because of red-tape that we have invented a problem where there was none. The move violates the guidelines of Union Health Ministry. This is criminal negligence," the official said.

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu also criticized the administration's decision, saying it was "needless and unscientific".

"Am I happy with the needless, unscientific 'quarantine' of students flying in? NO! Is it a violation of WHO, Health and Civil Av Ministry guidelines? YES! Am I raising my voice about this? YES! REPEATEDLY BUT INTERNALLY! Don't let THIS be a distraction - help by STAYING HOME! (sic)," the Mayor posted on Twitter.

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