KOTTAYAM /PALAKKAD/ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Health Department has come across a major challenge in its fight against Covid-19 with thousands of Malayalis who crossed borders to Kerala from red zones in other states bunking mandatory quarantine. Officials said thousands of people are crossing the state borders after registering for mandatory institutional quarantine at their respective districts, but many are not turning up, totally jeopardising the state’s effort to contain the spread of the virus.
As per officials, the government on Saturday started to track 264 persons who have not reported at isolation centres in Kottayam after crossing the borders till Saturday noon while 117 students who avoided isolation centres were traced and quarantined. “We came to know about their absence in isolation centres when district medical officers of respective districts alerted about it. The DMOs of each district can find details of quarantined persons from Covid Jagratha site,” said Rachana Chidambaram, district programme manager of National Health Mission (NHM).
“The government has excluded some people like pregnant woman, children below the age of 10 and elderly people above the age of 75 from institutional quarantine. But many, who do not come under these exempted categories, have bunked institutional quarantine. We are trying to locate them and they will be brought to isolation centres at the earliest,” said another official. In fact, there is no proper system to check whether a person coming from the red zone directly reaches the isolation centre.
“A person, who arrived from a red zone area in Bengaluru, had given a Kottayam address at the check-post but he went to Ernakulam. Similarly, several people are not proceeding to isolation centres jeopardising the state’s effort to fight the spread of the virus,” said an official of the health department. Presently, details like whether the person belonged to the exempted category were not available at the check-post. So the officials at district Covid war room have to contact each person on their mobile phone number to check whether he or she had reached the allotted isolation centre, which is a laborious task.
As per the norms of the Kerala Government, persons arriving from red zone areas of other states should register at the border check-post and proceed to Covid care centres set up by respective local bodies in their native places for mandatory 14-day quarantine. A senior police officer said it was up to Palakkad police to keep track on the persons crossing the state border through Walayar check-post. “There is a standing instruction that the government machinery should take them to institutional quarantine if they reach from red zone or containment zones,” the officer stated.