Coronavirus outbreak: Government to stamp ID marks on those quarantined

Updated: Mar 17, 2020, 07:48 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Those quarantined at home will have mark on left arm; travellers coming from affected countries will have poll mark

People with face masks at Dadar railway footover brige. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
People with face masks at Dadar railway footover brige. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

The government is intensifying its fight against COVID-19 pandemic, with Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope saying those who have been quarantined at home will be stamped with an identification mark on their left arm so that they can be located easily.

The minister said travellers from other countries will be classified into three groups – A, B and C - with 'A' being a person showing symptoms (will be isolated), 'B' being seniors with diabetes and hypertension (quarantined for 14 days) and 'C' being those quarantined at home. Such people will bear an identity mark (like the one marked during election polling). Local police personnel have been asked to keep tabs on those in home quarantine, said the minister.

Tope said the state government has added three more countries – Dubai (UAE), Saudi Arabia and the USA - to its list for screening of people with travel history. These travellers will be quarantined compulsorily. He said the administration has been asked to provide television sets, carrom boards and healthy at quarantine facilities.

To help mitigate the virus scare, divisional HQs will be given financial assistance immediately. Konkan and Pune divisions will be given R15 crore each, while Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad and Nasik will be granted R5 crore each in the first instalment.

Religious celebrations such as mass yatras and jamborees have been cancelled as the state's patient count went up on Monday. Only shops selling essential commodities and pharmacies were allowed to run. Restaurants and hotels have not been shut but people have been advised to stay away from any crowded place.

The state government on Monday announced closing down of schools and colleges in rural areas, too, along with shutting discotheques and pubs across Mumbai. The government has also barred visitors at administrative headquarters Mantralaya, postponed local body elections by three months and put off university examinations till March 31 even as board examinations were allowed to continue. Assembly at public places has been barred in Mumbai and other places.

Students have also been told to vacate hostels and not return before March 31, while teachers have been told to work from home. The situation will be reviewed on March 26.

What about Mantralaya employees?
From Monday, the state administration restricted visitors in the Mantralaya and placed a screening mechanism at entry points for those who must visit the state HQ with prior permission from the host. However, the diktat evoked a strong reaction from the employees union which said the government hadn't thought much about the thousands of employees who travel to Mantralaya and several other government and semi-government offices from suburbs and places like Pune and Raigad district.

A notification said that the ministers can meet not more than 10 outsiders every day and bureaucrats are allowed to meet only five.

These visitors will have to undergo a mandatory airport-like thermalscreening at the entry point. The offices of the hosts have been asked to inform the security in-charge through letters about their visitors. Officials from other offices have been barred from entering Mantralaya and the ministers and babus told to hold meetings if need be but advised against inviting private persons. An outpost has been created to receive daily mail and documents from other offices.

Subhash Gangurde, general secretary of the state employees' apex federation of unions, expressed serious concern about fellow employees who travel long distances in unsafe conditions.

"The visitors surely pose a threat, but the thousands of state and private employees also fall in the same category when they are exposed to each other during travel. We understand that the government offices cannot stop working in times of such an emergency and impending disaster but we demand that the government should also think of doing something about us," he said, adding that the apex federation would discuss the issue with the administrative bosses.

Traveller categories

Those coming from affected countries:

. Person showing symptoms (will be isolated)
. Seniors with diabetes and hypertension (to be quarantined for 14 days)
. No-symptom travellers (to be quarantined at home)

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