Nearly 2,000 people who have been to China and other affected countries are reportedly confined in home quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, the State Health department officials do not have any direct control or check to ensure that these people are following the protocol as instructed.
As per the protocol, the person in home quarantine is supposed to stay in a well-ventilated single room. There should be an attendant, besides whom no visitors should be allowed. The person should wear a medical mask fitted closely to the mouth to avoid any transmission of the virus. Additionally, the house should be disinfected and cleaned every day, and common spaces such as kitchen and bathroom should be well ventilated. However, the advisory cannot ensure that these necessary steps are implemented as advised.
Government doctors and experts do not find this methodology effective in keeping a check on the spread of the infection. “In the case of home quarantine, there are no sanitising procedures that should followed at home. The home quarantine is only an advisory-based approach and the monitoring of the health condition is of no use in preventing the transmission of infection,” a medical staff at the emergency unit at Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital said on condition of anonymity.
The doctors’ association said that the steps taken by the Health department to prevent Covid-19 are not adequate. “The Health department officials cannot leave the prevention of such a deadly communicable disease to the public for a period that is as long as 28 days. People think that they are not sick and are unlikely to stay in isolation in their homes just for preventive reasons. The negligence of the authorities can prove dangerous,” said Dr GR Ravindranath, secretary, Doctors’ Association for Social Equality.
While the Health department officials said that they have been monitoring the condition of all the persons who have travelled to China on an everyday basis, doctors pointed out that monitoring needs to be done regularly, as people who do not have symptoms can also spread infection.
“Most of the people who have been confirmed for the Covid-19 infection have a history of having travelled from China in the previous two weeks, or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms, who has travelled to China in the recent past. It has also been found that there are people who have contracted Covid-19 but are asymptomatic but are capable of transmitting the infection. This is more worrisome,” said Dr Saranya Narayan medical consultant and chief microbiologist.
The GVK EMRI had initiated an emergency helpline through 108 call center to keep a check on the health conditions of the persons on home quarantine. “If any changes are noticed in the body condition of the persons, they can report to the nearest primary health centre. The person can be referred to the nearest government hospital for further treatment and follow up investigations. The healthcare personnel are also undertaking inspections in several localities,” said Public Health director Dr K Kolandaisamy.