Activists fear quarantines turning into COVID hotspots

Rautahat, June 11

As the number of COVID-19 cases goes up in the district, challenges in controlling the disease have also increased in Rautahat.

Every day, scores of people return home from India. On top of the challenge emerging from the huge influx of migrant workers, the quarantine facilities put together by local authorities have failed to maintain the required criteria. This has increased the risk of infection even more.

Considering the risks involved, civil society leaders have asked the authorities concerned to pay attention to managing quarantine shelters.

“Thus far, whatever infections we have seen in the district have all come from India. They're living in different quarantine shelters, so given the risk that they could spread the virus to others at the shelters, it’s absolutely important to manage quarantine shelters properly so that the virus doesn’t spread further,” said the young social activist Mohan Yadav.

“Consigning people to a quarantine shelter that is already packed to its capacity only adds to the risk of the infection spread, so the federal government must monitor all these socalled quarantine shelters and do the needful to ensure that they are up to the standard,” Yadav added.

Meanwhile, people staying in quarantines demonstrated in Rajpur and Ishanath municipalities demanding they be allowed to go home. The demonstrators said they had to protest because their tests had been delayed.

“It’s been more than 10 days since they took our swab samples for testing, but we don’t know about our test results yet. We are living in constant fear of being infected in the overcrowded quarantine shelter,” said the quarantined people.

Chief District Officer Basudev Ghimire acknowledged the delay in testing. “It’s true that those quarantined in the two municipalities are losing patience due to delayed test results,” he said.

According to him, so far test reports of 2,488 people have come out. “Out of 6,933 swab samples collected for PCR testing, results of 2,488 have come so far and 474 tested positive.

We’re waiting for the reports of 4,445 others,” said the CDO, adding that the delay had to do with the limited testing capacity.

The CDO has also urged people in quarantine and their families to have patience, saying the district was facing with difficulty in managing the situation despite considerable preparations, given the huge influx of people from India.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 12, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.