People allege lack of facilities at quarantine centres; some return to Punjab, Delhi

A lady with a child waiting for quarantine (left) people standing in long queues (right) at Lakhanpur on Friday. -Excelsior/Pardeep
A lady with a child waiting for quarantine (left) people standing in long queues (right) at Lakhanpur on Friday. -Excelsior/Pardeep

Dr Jitendra appeals people to stay at their places
Avtar Bhat
KATHUA, Mar 27: Due to mess and inadequate arrangements, people being quarantined at Jammu and Kathua are facing many hardships and have apprehensions that in view of poor facilities and inadequate sanitation they may be exposed to some kind of infection.
Some people quarantined at Jammu and Kathua rang up the Excelsior saying that they were facing hardships and apprehend they will fall prey to any infection due to inadequate facilities including lack of sanitized and separate toilet facilities as well as poor quality of food served to them.
There is no fun of quarantining the people at a place where there are no proper hygienic facilities and people are huddled together instead of keeping them separate. This way they will be exposed to more risk of their lives in view of prevailing Coronavirus which gripped the entire globe, they said.
Even some chronic patients who had undergone surgeries outside and were not allowed to go to their hometowns but quarantined at Jammu and Kathua said that no medical facilities are being provided to them and no check up is being done by doctors.
Alleging poor facilities and mismanagement at Lakhanpur and quarantine centres in district Kathua, many people preferred to return to Punjab, Delhi and other States today instead of going for 14 days quarantine at Kathua.
There is total mess at Lakhanpur -the gateway of J&K where the checking of people coming from other states including neighbouring Punjab is being done before sending them for 14 days quarantine, said the students who were undergoing B Tech Engineering in Mukhtsar Punjab and had reached here late last night.
The group of 28 students from Kashmir valley reached Lakhanpur late last night and when they reported at the checking centre they were asked to come in the morning, one of the students Zahid said. He said after they reported in the morning they were told that they will be taken to quarantine centre in the afternoon but “we have been waiting since then but no decision has been taken upto 5 pm today where to take us. So we decided to return to Mukhtsar, Punjab instead of going to a Quarantine Centre here.”
Zahid, while decrying the arrangements said when such a mess is at checking place here where people have to remain in long queues and no distancing is maintained what will be the position at Quarantine centres?
Similar were the views of Shaheen from Anantnag who along his wife and one year old kid had come from Delhi and were on way to their hometown in Valley. He said they were in the queue for long time among over one hundred people and no body cared for them despite the fact that they were drenched in rain as there was no shelter to take refuge.
On the one hand the Government is making appeals to people to maintain distance and when such a messy situation will itself be created by the Government what one can expect of a common man, he asked.
There were many patients also waiting for reply from authorities to proceed for their homes but they too were not allowed and asked to go for 14 days quarantine at Kathua.
The reports reaching here said that there are not adequate facilities of toilets at Quarantine centres while one person should get separate toilet facility but the administration is unable to provide the same in view of rush.
The people alleged that even the toilets are not sanitized properly after a person goes for ease out there.
However, sources said that authorities at Kathua are facing difficulties in tackling the increasing rush and people have also opposed creating quarantine centres for the people coming outside states at Kathua in view of the outbreak of the COVID-19. They are demanding shifting of the people to the Quarantine centres in their respective districts for their safety as well as lessening the problems of the district administration which is also confronted with manpower shortage.
The Kathua administration on the one hand has to maintain the lockdown and on the other arrangements for the people kept in quarantine centres. Even one of the officers engaged on quarantine duty agreed with the demand regarding shifting of people of other districts to their respective districts to ease the problem at Kathua. This way the people kept in quarantine in their respective districts will also get the better facilities, he added.
He said some people could have been shifted to neighbouring Samba district by opening Quarantine centres there to decrease the heavy rush at Kathua.
Quite a few quarantined people in parts of the Winter Capital have alleged poor facilities and meals at isolation centres.
Many people have also circulated pictures, videos of the food provided to them at these facilities at different quarantine centres.
As per reports received here from one of the centres at Kissan Bhawan in Narwal area, the quarantined people alleged that food served is not satisfactory while only 500 ml water bottle is provided once or twice a day.
One person expressed that he had been hungry and returned to Jammu on March 20 and after his disclosure about travel history, he was home quarantined by the district administration.
“I was shifted to Narwal as a precautionary measure and it was a welcome step but the facilities are really poor,” he alleged and said, “as per the guidelines issued by Govt of India for the COVID-19 quarantine people will be provided sanitizers, soap, toiletry kit, drinking water, tea, snacks, food etc but unfortunately none of the facility is made available.”
He added that according to WHO, per person a minimum of three litres of daily fluid intake is recommended, whereas here in quarantine only a bottle of 250 ml is provided, which is not sufficient.
He further alleged that room is not being cleaned every day, social distancing is must but, at least 12 people are sharing the quarantine facility without being aware who is infected.
“Quarantine suspect person is supposed to be visited by doctors, paramedical staff and administrative staff but hardly any care is being taken,” he added.
He also added that the food provided is not satisfactory and packed in plastic, which is banned in India.
“There is no mosquito repellent in the room,” he claimed and requested to the administration to look into the matter ensuring full cooperation during the quarantine period.
The situation at Kargil House was also somehow similar where more than 250 students from Kargil, pursuing studies in parts of the country were quarantined on their return to their native places.
“As with the limited resources available here, it becomes almost impossible for the Kargil House authorities to look after to these students,” sources here said.
They added that with so many people present under one roof, one can imagine the situation and how disastrous it could be in such a scenario.
It is pertinent to mention here that more 2500 families from Ladakh are also waiting in Jammu to return to their homes.
“We have approached some of the taxi operators but they are waiting signal from administration only and ready to ferry us without wasting any time,” they said.
The stranded students have requested to the administration to either provide them facilities or allow them to proceed via road or airlift them.
“Gates at Kargil House remains open and have no thermal image screening facility and in such a situation, anybody with a potential carrier can enter the premises,” they added.
Meanwhile, Union Minister, Dr Jitendra Singh who has been appointed incharge of 22 districts of J&K and Ladakh said that he is himself monitoring the situation in two UTs and is in touch with all DCs. He said there is heavy rush at Kathua as people from other States are reaching in large numbers there.
He said to over come the rush the matter was taken with District administration Samba to accommodate some people in Samba and they have identified some places for the purpose. He also took up the issue with SSP Kathua, Shalinder Mishra who had informed the Minister that in view of the heavy rush some people will be quarantined at Railway Platform Kathua. However, Dr Jitendra Singh advised him to create sanitized toilet facilities for them there.
The Minister favoured that there should be separate toilet for each person to maintain personnel hygiene. In case the separate toilet is not possible the toilet should be sanitized properly every time when a person goes for easing out.
He also made an appeal to the people that they should sit at their places where they are presently instead of coming to J&K as it is for their own safety and safety of their families. He said that it is not police curfew but Janata curfew and if people will stay at the place where they are they can avert the risk to themselves and their families also.
When contacted District Development Commissioner Kathua, O P Bhagat told Excelsior that there are 1700 people in 24 quarantine centres in Kathua. He, however, denied that the people are facing any problem there.
An officer on quarantine duty said that the people kept in quarantine centres are provided breakfast, lunch and dinner and they are happy. They don’t face any problem, he maintained, adding that one can’t expect home like facilities in the quarantine centres.
However, the administration had decided to open some quarantine centres at Samba too to decrease the rush at Kathua. District Development Commissioner, Samba, Rohit Khajuria said that they have opened quarantine centres at three places in Vijaypur.