In Ahmedabad, police booked two people on Sunday for deserting home quarantine and attending a birthday party, despite a clear advisory issued by the health department to them




As many as 93 people in Gujarat flouted home quarantine/self-isolation in the past 10 days in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic in Gujarat, even as the police filed around 10 FIRs against such people and forced dozens of them to stay indoors.

As per information released by the Gujarat government, 433 people have been kept in government quarantine while 6,092 are in home quarantine so far.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday expressed concern over those flouting home quarantine/self-isolation. In an example of heightened surveillance by AMC to screen out any suspicious case, 10 people residing at Vikramnagar ISRO colony, the living quarters of the ISRO-Space Application Centre (SAC ) employees, were picked up by AMC health officials for a preliminary check.

An email by a Vikramnagar Resident Association (VRA) representative to all the colony residents cautioned people against panicking and assured that the AMC’s move was for their own safety. The precautionary move from AMC came on the back of the fact that a family had recently arrived from Delhi and a member of the family had developed some symptoms.

“All the family members and people who came in close contact with them, have been taken by AMC health officials for quarantine…” The group included a doctor. They were all allowed to go back after health officials cleared them.

In Ahmedabad, police booked two people on Sunday for deserting home quarantine and attending a birthday party, despite a clear advisory issued by the health department to them. According to police, an FIR was lodged at Maninagar police station at the behest of health department officials against the duo, who had recently returned from Muscat and were asked to undergo home quarantine for 14 days. “However, when health department officials conducted a surprise check, the two were found attending a birthday party. We have booked them under IPC sections 188 and 270 for disobedience and malignant act likely to spread infection of a disease, along with section of the Epidemic Disease Act,” said a senior police officer at Maninagar police station.

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has come across 19 such instances, where authorities had to quarantine people.

While COVID-19 regulations stipulate home quarantine or self-isolation upon landing in the state from abroad, more so if arriving from a country affected by COVID-19, Ahmedabad municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra believes the biggest challenge for tackling the outbreak in the city is not in terms of infrastructure-shortage, but rather towards changing people’s attitude where “they refuse to understand the importance of quarantine”.

The Gujarat government on March 13 had notified the framing of COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 under the ambit of Gujarat Epidemic Diseases Act. The regulations had empowered the health commissioner, municipal commissioners and district collectors or any other authorised officer by the health department to forcefully admit, retain, keep and isolate for a period of 14 days if a suspected patient resists or refuses hospital admission. AMC is now relying upon this to quarantine those who are flouting their stipulated home quarantine/self-isolation.

Municipal Commissioner Nehra said they are tackling the issue of effective quarantining on a two-pronged basis. One, where they are relying on “feedback” from people on the helpline numbers where they are “calling on” their neighbours or others, complaining of non-adherence to home quarantine. “In such cases, we will check the travel history (of the said person) and if not followed, we will institutionally quarantine them,” said Nehra.

The second method requires large-scale data mining, where the state government provides the urban local body with a list of those who were issued passports locally. The state government sources this list from the MEA and according to officials, the tough part is identifying those on the list as there are no contact numbers provided.

“We have received 7,000 such names. A special data centre has been established where the data is first sorted on the basis of pin-code so as to allocate it zone-wise and further ward-wise. This data is then further sorted on the basis of arrival date, where say if someone arrived on March 3 and someone on March 14, we will prioritise in locating the one who arrived on March 14. We are deploying hundreds of teams with thousands of members across departments of AMC,” added Nehra.

The past few days have seen rigorous checking on the adherence of home quarantine.Of the 362 currently institutionally quarantined in the AMC jurisdiction across six such facilities, 19 are such who had to be forcibly institutionally quarantined while the remaining are those who were brought in from the airport.

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