The Karnataka government has begun collecting swabs of people arriving from Maharashtra at railway stations in Bengaluru. On Tuesday, the waiting lounge on platform number 8 of KSR Bengaluru railway station turned into a coronavirus testing kiosk soon after the special train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) Mumbai arrived.
In a first, #Karnataka arranges #COVID19 testing kiosk in KSR #Bengaluru railway station to test passengers deboarding from special train from #MumbaiCST. Live swabs taken by experts in waiting lounge. @IndianExpress @IEBengaluru @ie_mumbai pic.twitter.com/NG1cVs6tiV
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) June 2, 2020
Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (H&FW) told Indianexpress.com that the kiosk was set up as per the decision taken by the government. “Live swabs will be collected by experts primarily from passengers arriving for business in the city. They will be sent directly to an institution quarantine facility after this and will be permitted to step out only after they test negative. Their results will be obtained within two days,” he said.
As per the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services, only business travellers are exempted from the mandatory seven-day quarantine announced for incoming passengers from Maharashtra.
To avail the exemption, business passengers are required to submit a COVID-19 negative certificate and copies of light or train tickets that confirm they will leave within seven days of their arrival. Testing is compulsory for those failing to provide a COVID-19 negative certificate.
The SOP also states that other travellers (non-business) from Maharashtra with COVID-19 negative test certificate from an Indian Council of Medical Research-approved lab will also be exempted from institution quarantine, but shall be sent for home quarantine for seven days.
However, a health officer said that passengers have been insisting that their samples should also be tested. “More people demanded their swabs been taken at the railway station itself as they intended to avoid institutional quarantine. As of now, we are sticking to the protocol issued by the government. Exceptional cases are decided by our higher officials,” the health officer said.
According to South Western Railway (SWR), 644 passengers deboarded Udyan Express (Train 01301) at KSR Bengaluru station at 8.33 am. This included 592 adults and 52 children.
“Over 10 BMTC buses were ready at the station to ferry passengers to the place (free/paid) they opted for quarantine after their details were recorded by government officials at the station,” an SWR statement read.
Further, Dr Srinivas G A, District Health Officer (Bengaluru Urban) said, “We had collected around 40 swabs from KSR Bengaluru railway station today, of only those under special category including business passengers.”
He added that all returnees from Maharashtra will be sent to mandatory institutional quarantine for 7 days followed by another week of strict home quarantine.
“Adhering to the SOP issued for the same, they will be under surveillance via Quarantine Watch, Apthamitra apps and ASHA workers will be on the field to check for symptoms. If anyone in quarantine (home/institutional) is found symptomatic, their samples will be collecting for testing,” he said.
Further, Dr Srinivas added that testing at railway stations and bus stations will be discontinued as per a revision in SOPs which is expected to be issued soon.
“Instead, those who are found symptomatic on arrival will be taken to the nearest designated testing facility for swab collection and further procedures,” he said.