The Kerala government is betting on its tried-and-tested model of home quarantine aided by strict grassroot-level monitoring for its expats coming from abroad at a time when coronavirus infections are surging in the state.
Revising its earlier guideline, which mandated seven days of institutional quarantine followed by seven days of home quarantine, the government has now stated that all expatriates returning from abroad can directly go for a 14-day quarantine period at their homes without spending a day at the government’s institutional facilities. Those who don’t have adequate facilities at their homes for quarantine can choose to stay at institutional premises arranged by the government.
In an order issued on May 2, the disaster management department stated that all ‘residential facilities/dwelling units identified and approved by the district administration and/or local self government shall be treated as institutional quarantine facilities.’ The decision was taken following a meeting of the state executive of the Kerala state disaster management authority (KSDMA) on May 27. It said the order was issued in the light of the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for international arrivals.
As of June 4, a total of 1,70,065 people are under observation in the state out of which 1487 people are admitted to hospitals and the remaining 1,68,578 persons either under institutional or home quarantine. In its daily bulletins, the health department doesn’t offer a break-up of those under institutional and home quarantine. Both are clubbed together.
The state currently has 884 active cases, a huge increase from the 16 cases it had on May 7 just before airports were opened up for flights carrying stranded Indians from other countries. The state reported its highest single-day tally of Covid cases on Thursday with 94 infections. Most persons detected with the infection in recent weeks have either a travel history from abroad or from states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu which have high case-loads.
With thousands of people expected to return to the state in the next few weeks both from abroad and other states in the country, the government predicts a severe crunch on its resources. Unpaid institutional facilities are fast drying up and providing security, food and medical care round-the-clock is proving to be a severe strain on its resources.
In between, though the government mandated that all expats must pay for their first seven days of institutional quarantine, the plan was quickly dropped in the face of protests by opposition parties. Parties like the Congress and the IUML contended that many of the expats were returning home after losing their jobs and were therefore under immense financial strain. Subjecting them to pay for the facilities was inhuman, they raised.