Stuck in ‘haunted’ quarantine centre, migrant attempts suicide in Kurnool

The group of 113 migrant workers reached Kurnool from Thane in Maharashtra on May 18, and were taken to the government model school at Kosigi village.

Published: 05th June 2020 10:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2020 10:20 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KURNOOL/VIJAYAWADA: Amid fears over the spread of coronavirus, rumours of ghosts at a government quarantine centre at Kosigi village in Kurnool district are giving the 100-odd migrant workers lodged there sleepless nights. Fearing ghosts, and with officials unwilling to let them out, a 47-year-old migrant worker attempted suicide in the facility on Thursday.

The group of 113 migrant workers reached Kurnool from Thane in Maharashtra on May 18, and were taken to the government model school at Kosigi village. Over the past few days, rumours spread around the inmates at the centre that a ghost was on the prowl. Due to this, the inmates started gathering together at night.“We formed groups and stay up all night fearing that a ghost may arrive,” an inmate said, adding that they took up the matter with the officials concerned but got no response.

Some of them demanded that they be allowed to leave as their quarantine period had ended, but officials refused saying their test results are awaited. On Wednesday night, a 47-year-old, who was lodged in the centre with his wife, requested the officials to let him return to his hometown as he tested negative for coronavirus and completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. When the officials refused, he quarrelled with them.

On Thursday morning, he tried to hang himself from the window in his room using a cloth, but the other inmates noticed and rescued him. He was then taken to a hospital. “We are scared and unable to sleep, so we sit in groups at night and talk. No officials or staff spend the night here to take care of us,” he alleged.
Medical officer of the centre Dr N Keerthi Priya said the person who attempted suicide is stable and is at Adoni Government Hospital.

‘Psychiatrist at quarantine centres a must’

“His wife tested positive for coronavirus and has been sent to the Covid hospital. Though several migrants at the centre completed the 14-day quarantine period, we cannot let them our as their results are yet to arrive,” she said.

The attempt to commit suicide has brought to light the need for psychological assistance at quarantine centres. “Like Covid-19 hospitals, each quarantine centre also needs a psychiatrist on duty. Being aware of what is happening is different from experiencing it. We never know how a human brain will react to a situation, so it is necessary to have daily psychological check ups at quarantine centres,” said Dr Gopichand, head of the epidemiology department at the Vijayawada Government General Hospital.

However, district medical and health officer, psychiatry, (DMHP), Visakhapatnam, said, “Each district has psychiatrists deployed on a call basis. When there is a need, we get calls and send a psychiatrist at that specific centre. Each district’s DMHP looks after the centres and the psychological needs there. However, lack of specialists is a hindrance.

Being pre-occupied with providing services at Covid hospitals and newly-opened de-addiction centres, we cannot dedicate someone full-time at each centre. It is not logistically possible as we do not have that many clinical psychology graduates or professors or students.” Meanwhile, it has come to light that none of the quarantine centres has a full-time doctor deployed to extend emergency medical services.


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