Delayed COVID-19 reports put returnees in quandary

Delayed COVID-19 reports put Karnataka returnees in quandary

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Anand Bandiwaddar, a 26-year-old civil services examination aspirant who returned from Delhi to Gokak in Belagavi district in a Shramik Express is now a worried person. He fears to enter his home, as even after completing 14-days of institutional-quarantine, he has not received report of the swab test that was collected eight days ago.

Not just him, more than 3,000 people in Belagavi, who have returned from other high-risk states, are awaiting their medical reports and yet the majority of them (600 according to former minister Satish Jarkiholi) have been sent home by the district administration, stating the new guidelines by the State government.

This has led to fear among people and elected representatives of community spread as those sent for home quarantine can still spread the disease.

“I have completed 14-days of institutional-quarantine and my swab sample was collected after eight days of institutional-quarantine. I don’t have any symptoms, however, one of my co-passengers who travelled in the same bus from Hubballi to Belagavi on May 16 has turned positive now, and I am worried to enter the home as I may spread the disease to others. Release of the medical report could have helped us to make a decision,” said Anand.

Shivaraj Kumar, who was institutional-quarantined at Gokak BMC hostel says that majority of the returnees from Maharashtra, one of the high-risk state, were tested on the sixth or seventh day, and were released before the results were out. “25 of us were kept in the same hostel and we don’t know if anyone of us had contracted the disease,” he said.

Even Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Working President Satish Jarkiholi on Saturday raised concern over the move of the Health Department, which has ‘discharged’ 600 persons who were under institutional-quarantine across Belagavi district before reports of their COVID-19 tests were issued. He termed it a ‘big risk’ taken by the district administration.

Sources in district administration informed DH that more than 7,000 people have come from high-risk states, including Maharashtra. Testing all of them is a time-consuming process.

Speaking to DH, Belagavi Deputy Commissioner S B Bommanahalli said, medical reports of more than 3,000 people are awaited, and all those who have been ‘discharged’ from institutional-quarantine are as per the circular issued by State government on May 27, which says: ‘A person who has completed 7-days of institutional quarantine and is asymptomatic can be permitted for home-quarantine without a COVID-19 test (RT-PCR)...’

Bommanahalli said the large-scale backlog is because of the high flux in the number of returnees from other States.

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