A quarantine row has erupted in Kerala as the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed all returning Keralites from abroad to pay for the mandatory 15 day quarantine period.
Put into effect from today, Vijayan said that this is as a result of the sudden upswing in the number of Covid-19 cases. He has further said that the charges would be nominal but need to be borne by those who have returned from abroad.
The mandatory quarantine period requires citizens to remain in government-provided facilities for a week followed by another week’s containment in their respective homes.
This looks to be a little strange because the CM has also substantiated the preparedness of the state with adequate rooms. Expressing his resentment, senior Lok Sabha member and RSP leader N.K. Premachandran said, that “The government said they have identified 2.35 lakhs beds of which 1.53 lakhs beds are already ready to accommodate the returnees. They also pointed out that 9,000 rooms are ready for those willing to pay at private hotels.” He accused the CM of doing a ‘somersault on this, as just 11,000 people have arrived and things have gone haywire and are asking the Keralite returnees to pay.”
CPI-M Lok Sabha member from the state, A.M. Ariff seems to have substantiated and shown shock over how could such a facility be provided by a state that is fund starved? He said, “Kerala is a fund-starved state and it is no hidden fact that the finances here are also poor. On several occasions, I have wondered if it would be possible to provide free quarantine for all the diaspora who return.”
According to a World Bank report, Kerala has low levels of poverty. But pockets within the state display high poverty, and consumption inequality is the highest in the country. Ironically, the government has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court earlier in the months stating they were prepared and adept to take care of Keralite nationals returning home from abroad in the pandemic times. Currently, nine more hotspots have been added taking the total to 68 in the state. Kerala has been one of the worst-hit and worst managed outbreaks of the virus since its inception in March 2020.
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