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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Karnataka: Passengers pop pills to evade thermal screening, government says trick won’t work

"Even if some are popping paracetamols during their journey back home here, we are able to identify such cases once they are in the mandatory institution quarantine," a Karnataka minister said.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Mangaluru |
Updated: May 28, 2020 7:41:00 pm
Health officials claim that the number of such cases is ‘very less’ as of now. (File photo)

Since thermal screening become a strict protocol measure at points of entry to catch a flight, train or bus back home from places outside and within India, several passengers are seen popping paracetamols to evade the same.

Admitting the same, a couple of passengers who landed in Bengaluru and Mangaluru airports as part of the Vande Bharat Mission told Indianexpress.com that took the measure out of desperation.

“A day before I boarded the flight, I had developed symptoms of fever and cold and my body temperature kept rising. When I reached out to a physician using a telemedical facility, he advised me to take a double dose of paracetamol an hour before leaving for the airport,” a female professional in her early 30s said.

When asked whether she was aware that this would have put her co-passengers and even the flight crew under risk, she said, “I had no other option but to fly back home as I had lost my part-time job and was facing uncertainty on my future in another country.”

However, she was tested for Covid-19 upon her on return while she was quarantined in a government institution and was only sent for home quarantine when her test result came negative.

Another person, a man in his early 40s, who had landed in Mangaluru from Dubai said, “I was told that I would be sent back to my labour camp if I had symptoms of fever or cold. I had resigned from my job once my ticket was confirmed and I had no place to return. Hence, I thought of taking paracetamol to reaffirm my entry to my flight.”

Three days later, he was tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to a designated facility in Dakshina Kannada district.

Advising passengers to not indulge in such activities, Dr Bindumathi P L, Sr. Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital said such a practice, especially in times of a pandemic, is definitely not good. “By doing this, an individual is putting others, including his/her family members and kin at risk of contracting the virus,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Jagadish Hiremath of ACE Suhas Hospital in Jigani stressed on the need of wearing masks saying it would reduce the risk of catching virus. “As per various reports, more than 90 per cent of the carriers are asymptomatic. It is very important that these carriers must wear masks so that they do not infect others.”

He also said that citizens should treat others as a potential Covid-19 carrier. “Ensuring strong social distancing measures while travelling, at work and in social life is quintessential in nature. Blaming it on a physician’s advice is wrong as most of these international passengers are educated and affluent people,” he added.

‘Institution quarantine provides immunity against such cases’

However, the health officials claim that the number of such cases is ‘very less’ as of now. “Even if some are popping paracetamols during their journey back home here, we are able to identify such cases once they are in the mandatory institution quarantine. As the effect of these tablets would not stay for long, symptoms will reappear making it identifiable and be sent for testing,” Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, who is also Karnataka’s Covid-19 spokesperson told Indianexpress.com.

“We are also trying to address this situation among those who are sent to home quarantine as well. Other ideas to tackle this issue are also being studied now” he said.

Suggesting a measure to discourage passengers doing so, Dr Bindumathi said, “The best is to perform a COVID test for each traveller prior to their travel date keeping in mind that the test result takes approximately 24 to 48 hours to generate.”

As of now, a COVID-19 negative report is mandatory only for those coming into the state for business work in domestic flights.

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