New oxymoron: Quarantined together

Covid patients & uninfected people lodged in same centres, say inmates

Published: 25th June 2020 06:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2020 11:25 AM   |  A+A-

Quarantine Stamp

Image for representational purpose only. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: ‘Stay Away, Stay Safe’, scream posters all around us as ultra-congested cities like Chennai struggle to shake off the vice-like grip of Covid. And quarantine centres are one of the best ways of ensuring social distancing, as they help in safe isolation of large groups of people. But what happens when close contacts of Covid patients, who are at very high risk of contracting the virus, are quarantined without testing along with those who are at less risk?  

Fifty three-year-old Sudha (name changed) was taken to the Guru Nanak school quarantine facility after her husband tested positive for the virus on May 31. She was taken with 24 others residing in the same building to the quarantine facility in Velachery because their houses were too small for home quarantine. Neither she nor her family was tested then. The facility housed around 200 inmates. After five days of quarantine, she insisted on getting tested, after she felt tired and feverish. Her results came back positive - two days later. 

“By then, I had spent time with so many others in the facility who did not have the virus including my 3-year-old granddaughter. She would, in fact, comb my hair everyday,” she said. She had shared a classroom-turned-quarantine facility with nine others, including a high-risk 70-year-old woman with diabetes, who was in the bed next to her. “I could have passed it on to her or any other perfectly healthy person who had all assumed I didn’t have the virus,” she added. 

Her son, who did not want to be named, said before his mother was taken to the quarantine facility, at least she alone should have been tested because her husband was positive and she was a close contact. After testing positive, she was shifted to a quarantine facility in Guindy Industrial Estate, from where she was discharged after spending four days there. When contacted, Corporation officials said she did not have any symptoms when she was transferred to the quarantine facility and so, she was not tested as per protocol. 

“She only began developing symptoms later, immediately after which she was tested,” the official said. In a similar incident in Pallavaram, a group of vegetable vendors, both Covid-positive and negative, were accommodated together in a community hall for two days before Covid patients were shifted as and when their test results came. Many of the vendors there believed they had in fact acquired the virus from the ‘quarantine’ facility and not from Koyambedu.

Couple booked
Chennai: Police have booked a couple for violating home quarantine norms at Choolaimedu. Police said after testing positive, they were released from hospital on June 15 and told to isolate at home for 14 days. But they allegedly went walking on Tuesday.

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