Institutional quarantine reason for infection spreading faster, opine health experts
Bengaluru: The State Government has increased the quarantine time for people returning from Maharashtra from a fortnight to three weeks. “Returnees from Maharashtra will be sent to institutional quarantine for seven days, followed by 14 days strict home quarantine, (for a) total (of) 21 days,” tweeted Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey.
The 21-day quarantine is for all asymptomatic people returning from Maharashtra, considering most of the COVID-19 cases reported in Karnataka are having domestic travel history to that State. This comes after Karnataka saw fresh cases of Coronavirus after their quarantine period was finished. If any of the asymptomatic people develop symptoms during the isolation, they will be subjected to a COVID-19 test.
However, some asymptomatic individuals from Maharashtra have been provided exceptions from the three-week quarantine and designated as special category passengers.
Special category passengers include people who suffered a death in the family, pregnant women, children below 10, elderly people above 60, individuals suffering from serious illness and human distress.
Similarly, the Department has made provisions for business travellers from Maharashtra. “To establish that one is a business visitor, (the) person should show confirmed return flight or train ticket which should not be more than seven days late from the date of arrival,” ordered Karnataka Chief Secretary T.M. Vijay Bhaskar.
Similarly, if a business visitor is arriving by road, he should provide address proof of the person in Karnataka he intends to meet. Additionally, such a person should also produce a COVID-negative test certificate which is not more than two days old.
“(If) one does not have a COVID-negative test certificate, such a person should go for institutional quarantine for two days within which (the) test should be conducted at his own cost. After the test result is negative, that person is exempted from quarantine,” he said.
Health experts say no to institutional quarantine
Meanwhile, health experts in COVID-19 Advisory Committee are against institutional quarantine saying it leads to possibility of healthy individuals contracting the virus. The fact that more than 40 per cent of patients in Karnataka are those from quarantine centres is enough, they said.
The Government will issue an order giving powers to respective districts to determine the duration of institutional quarantine, depending on the influx of travellers. For example, Hassan insists on 14 days’ institutional quarantine for Maharashtra returnees, whereas according to the State guidelines, it is seven days.
Dr. Giridhar Babu, a member of the COVID-19 Expert Committee, said, “We should limit institutional quarantine facilities to only those who don’t have homes. We should go for home quarantine to everyone who can afford it. I have said in every meeting that institutional quarantine is the reason for the infection spreading faster. The healthy are getting infected from a few in quarantine”, he added.