Returnees prefer hotels to unmanaged and overcrowded quarantine facilitiesFailure to manage state-run quarantine facilities has forced many returnees to pay their way through quarantine measures.
A recent returnee from Saudi Arabia was asked to stay a night at a quarantine facility in Baglung Bazaar before making his way to his hometown the next day. Having heard of the poor state and mismanagement of the government-run quarantine facilities and holding centres, he chose to stay at a hotel to self-quarantine at Rs 1,700 a day.
“My relatives and friends had informed me that a good number of people have to share a single room in quarantine facilities. So I decided to stay at a hotel, even though I have to pay for the stay unlike at a government-run facility,” he told the Post.
Most returnees to Baglung of late have begun staying at hotels rather than going to government-run quarantine centres in light of multiple reports highlighting the poor management of these facilities. Overcrowded rooms, unhygienic restrooms, unhealthy food and safety issues have marred the government’s efforts in setting up community quarantine facilities at the local level for returnees to stay at while they undergo tests for the coronavirus.
According to the local administration, 80 people are currently quarantining at different hotels in Baglung Bazaar. Nilesh Rajbhandari, chairman of the Hotel Association in Baglung, said returnees from foreign countries book hotels in Baglung as soon as they land in Kathmandu.
Seven hotels in Baglung Bazaar are currently open for returnees to quarantine in.
“We can provide quarantine services to 100 people at the moment from seven hotels,” said Rajbhandari “We can accommodate up to 150 people in those hotels in Baglung Bazaar, if need be.” He, however, was against the local units’ idea to use hotels as holding centres for a few days before moving the returnees to community quarantine facilities.
The hotels provide one room with an attached bathroom per person and meals are delivered to their rooms. “We follow all SOPs for the safety of our guests and staff,” said Enjil Shakya, a hotelier. “We don’t allow intermingling among guests or staff.”
He, however, fears that the local community might boycott his hotel for offering his establishment as a quarantine facility.
Meanwhile, state-run facilities find themselves overwhelmed with the massive influx of returnees, and authorities claim this to be the reason behind poor management of these facilities.
Around 1,500 people are currently staying in various quarantine facilities in the district’s 10 local units. Baglung has reported 142 cases of coronavirus as of Thursday.
Amar Thapa, chairman of Kothekhola Rural Municipality, said, “We have a limited budget of Rs 500 per person per day and we cannot set up proper quarantine facilities with that amount. We are trying to provide the best possible services we can to all quarantined people,” said Thapa.