Coronavirus (Covid-19): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Friday condemned in strong language the reports of ostracisation and unfair treatment meted out to people returning to the state either from abroad or other parts of the country.
He promised strict action by the government against persons who indulge in troubling and denigrating those needing to enter quarantine after returning to the state.
“The responsibility of our state and our people is to welcome those coming from abroad or other states in the country and provide them all help they need. To drive them away instead does not fit humanity. We know that some of them travelling to the state will be infected. We have to be careful not to let it spread to others. That’s why we need quarantine,” the Chief Minister said at his daily press briefing.
He cited the case of a woman and her two children, aged seven and four, who travelled to their home in Kottayam district from Bengaluru. They were reportedly not allowed to enter their home, by her own family and by her in-laws, for nearly eight hours despite completing 14 days of quarantine. The woman was forced to take the help of the district administration.
Last month, in Malappuram district’s Edappal too, an expatriate who arrived from the Gulf was not allowed to enter home by his own family or even provided water to drink. After hours of waiting outside, he was whisked off to institutional quarantine facility by local health officials.
The CM added, “We must remember where such experiences take us? Where is humanity? Even those who are infected must not be kept at a distance and be isolated. By keeping physical distance, we must ensure their protection. Such isolated mindsets will only work to defame our state.”
“Humanity is the biggest weapon we have in fighting against the pandemic. This disease can happen to anyone. The disease is the enemy, not the patient. We must never forget this,” he added.
The Chief Minister stressed that a large section of the expatriates returning to the state have lost their jobs and are battling serious mental health issues. At such a juncture, instead of ostracising them, efforts must be made to provide them help and adequate mental support. The government’s machinery as part of which ward-level committees, the 24×7 Disha helpline and the telemedicine facility under e-Sanjeevani initiative is prepared to provide support to such returnees.
The CM’s comments come at a time when the state is witnessing a surge of Covid-19 cases, among which a large section has been detected as ‘imported’ in nature. Transmission through primary or secondary contact, though increasing in recent days, is still less than 15%. While all those symptomatic on arrival at airports, railway-stations or check-points on highways are taken to hospitals and tested, the asymptomatic persons are required to go under a 14-day quarantine. As of July 3, there are 1.7 lakh people under home or institutional quarantine.
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