A 47-year-old person who returned to Kerala from Dubai on March 11, and was found to be asymptotatic at the airport, roamed around freely till March 19, when results of the Covid-19 test turned out to be positive. Lapses of the health department and administration in not being able to ensure such persons remain in quarantine has snowballed into a health crisis in Kasaragod district.
Over the last seven days, the person mingled with hundreds of people and attended family and public functions, leaving the district administration now struggling to trace the primary contacts. In fact, two legislators M C Kamaruddin and N A Nellikkunnu, who were exposed to him, are now in self-quarantine.
After the frequent traveller landed at Kozhikode on March 11, he was screened and made to fill the mandatory form. “I was given a telephone number of the health department if required,’’ he said.
He stayed in a Kozhikode hotel on March 11, and boarded a train to Kasaragod the next day. “I had developed sore throat and was coughing. At the behest of my relatives, I went to the government hospital in Kasaragod on March 14. During examination, I told the doctor I had returned from Dubai. She asked to me remain at home quarantine.’’
Meanwhile, people at his village Mogral Puthur alerted the primary health centre that he was moving around. On March 16, he got a call from the primary health centre, asking him to report at the Covid-19 desk at the district government hospital. Next day, he gave the samples and returned home. He continued to move freely in his family and friend circles. Two days later, the results came, health officials asked him to reach the hospital by his car instead of sending an ambulance.
Kasaragod district medical officer A V Ramdas said there was delay in reporting at the health department, but the person should have remained in home quarantine. “We came to know about him on March 14 or 15. We did not get any information from the health desk at airport. We are looking into why this happened.’’
District collector D Sajith Babu said, “We have repeatedly asked persons who returned from Naif region in Dubai, where Covid-19 cases were reported, to inform the authorities. But many are yet to comply with the directions.’’
On not isolating the person at hospital after his throat swabs were collected, Sajith Babu said it was the medical board’s decision. A health worker said, “Whenever we called, he said was at home.”
Kasaragod legislator N A Nellikunni said he met the person on March 14 at a wedding. “I knew him well. During the function, we got a photograph clicked with the bride and the bridegroom. After giving him a hug, I left. Yesterday, I came to know he tested positive and I have decided to go into home quarantine,’’ he said.
On March 18, another legislator M C Kamaruddin chanced upon the person. While Kamaruddin was in his car, the person flagged down the vehicle. He shook hands with the legislator and took a selfie with him. Kamaruddin also went into quarantine on Friday.
The person, now at a government hospital, said, “After collecting samples, I should not have been allowed to go. I never realised the seriousness of the issue. I met several persons and hugged many. I don’t know whether I landed them all in trouble.’’
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