Updated: March 30, 2020 9:02:32 pm
Emotional scenes played out outside the general hospital at Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district Monday as doctors, nurses and other health staff bid goodbye to five members of a family who were discharged after testing negative for novel coronavirus.
A 25-year-old man, his parents aged 55 and 53, and two of their relatives were allowed to leave the isolation ward at the general hospital after their swab samples tested negative twice for coronavirus. The permission was in keeping with the World Health Organisation protocol. The 25-year-old and his parents, residents of Aythala near Ranni in Pathanamthitta, had arrived from Italy on February 29 and were admitted to the hospital on March 6 following symptoms.
On Monday, staff at the general hospital clapped and cheered as the five persons walked out. The family were first handed a box of sweets, followed by packets of cooked food for them to eat at night. They were also handed cartons of food and other supplies that they would require in the next two weeks of mandatory home quarantine. The protocol set by the health department stipulates that those who recover from the illness should spend the next 14 days in home quarantine. After the end of their home quarantine, their swab samples would be tested again to confirm the absence of the virus in their body.
Later, the 25-year-old’s mother, fighting back tears, told reporters, “I want to thank all of them, nurses, doctors, the district collector, DMO, for taking care of us for the last 25 days….we had never thought that we would go back home alive. I want to thank God and I want to tell everyone that I will remember all of you in our prayers.”
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The three-member family who returned from Italy in February had to face the ire of the state’s health department and the public after it became clear that they had skipped the mandatory screening at the Kochi airport upon their arrival and proceeded not to inform the health department about their foreign travel. Between February 29 and March 6, the family, instead of maintaining social distancing, reportedly attended functions and travelled to several parts of Ranni including post-offices, banks and police stations. Over 900 people, who had primary or secondary contact with the family during the period, were brought under quarantine by the health department.
On Monday, upon their release from the hospital, the 25-year-old admitted that they committed an unintentional mistake by not adhering to protocol and hoped the health staff and the public would understand their dilemma. He thanked the staff at the hospital for giving them constant guidance and counselling during their treatment.
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