Last Sunday, Ramakrishna Kapa celebrated his 43rd birthday alone in a hotel room in Delhi, where he was quarantined after returning from the US. The hotel brought him some laddoos, with ‘happy birthday’ written on the container’s lid. And medical authorities drew some samples from him to test for COVID-19.
The results came out negative three days later and he was allowed to leave, but Kapa is now faced with the decision to travel more than 2,000 km by road, for 40 hours, to get home to his wife in Bengaluru: “I have a flight ticket booked for the 15th, but I’m not sure if they would fly in case the lockdown is extended.”
There are others like Kapa who completed their 14-day quarantine period at government-monitored facilities after arriving in Delhi from abroad, but are now stuck waiting for the lockdown to end.
These are largely people with a medical condition or around the age of 60, who were categorised as ‘high risk’ but completed their quarantine and did not test positive for the virus. From far away cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Visakhapatnam, they have already spent over Rs 50,000 to be quarantined in a hotel room. They are now spending thousands more each day to continue staying in a hotel until they can travel. Many have made flight bookings for April 15, as travelling by road, especially for the elderly, might not be feasible. That too, is uncertain, if the lockdown is extended.
“It’s not about money, it about the mental stress. My wife is in Bengaluru and my children in a village with my parents in Andhra Pradesh. After I get home, I will try making an arrangement with the authorities to bring my kids back,” said Kapa. He added that after being released from quarantine, he was given a one-day pass to leave the city but hesitated travelling such a long distance by a cab.
A N Rao (58) and his wife were quarantined after arriving in Delhi from Dubai on March 20. Their home is in Visakhapatnam. “The hotel does not know how we are supposed to get home. We have spent over Rs 1 lakh in quarantine, as my wife and I were kept in separate rooms. We’re now spending Rs 7,000 per day at another hotel. We are suffering,” said Rao.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines