BAGALKOT: The lives of at least 500 people are at risk because of the negligence of South Western Railways and lack of clarity in norms, as a 57-year-old railway employee, who died recently, tested positive. The employee was working as a ticket collector and had gone to Miraj in Maharashtra on duty last week. After returning from the hotspot state, the authorities allowed him to travel to his hometown via Hubballi, ignoring institutional quarantine norms.
District Health Officer Dr Ananth Desai said, “We did not have any information about his return from Maharashtra. SWR officials apprised us only after his death. As he complained of body ache, his family members took him to a local doctor on Saturday.
On Monday, he again complained of uneasiness and fever, but died on the way to hospital.” He said, “Complying with the protocol, his throat swab was collected and tested at CBNAT lab in the district, which revealed that he was Covid-positive. The same samples have also been sent to labs in Bengaluru for revalidation and the results are expected on Wednesday.” Ironically, over 200 people attended the final rites on Monday and were unaware of the positive report.
Health authorities are tracing each one of them, besides insisting them to undergo home quarantine till the results are out. Meanwhile, the entire village with a population of over 1,500 people was completely sealed down in the early hours on Tuesday. E Vijaya, Chief Public Relations Officer, SWR, said, “As per government norms, officials and political leaders, who travel across the country, have been exempted from quarantine. That is why we did not insist on quarantine”. However, a Department of Health and Family Welfare official said, “The exemption is applicable only for ministers and officers, but not for Group B, C and D employees.” With the death of this 57-year-old man, the toll in Bagalkor district has gone up to two.