Provincial government in Karnali scrambles to arrange for fully-functional quarantine facilitiesAround 80 people who returned from India in the past two weeks cooped up in a 28-room hotel in Birendranagar.
Bhairab Rokaya, a permanent resident of Hima in Jumla district, has been confined at a Birendranagar-based hotel in Surkhet. He shares a room in Hotel Ashoka with three other people. Today is their fourth day in quarantine.
“Two of us are sleeping on a single bed in the hotel room while two others are using the passage as their bedroom,” Rokaya told the Post on Saturday morning. “We don’t have a problem with the living arrangement or the food but we have been put together in isolation with those who are suffering from fever.”
Rokaya and others like him who returned to Nepal in the last two weeks from various places in India have been put up in the hotel in Birendranagar. The provincial government of Karnali Province is still scrambling to build a fully-functional quarantine facility for the returnees.
“I want to go home and stay in self-quarantine rather than staying here (hotel) in such close proximity with others,” said Rokaya.
As many as 78 people are currently sharing the 28-room hotel. Forty-eight others are quarantined in two other places, a building of a community school and a hostel, in Birendranagar.
On Saturday morning, two health workers were running health checks on the quarantined in the hotel compound. “A man has been suffering from high fever for the past three days. I have already informed the higher authorities about it. We had also asked him to be kept in isolation but he’s still sharing a room with a couple of others,” said one of the health workers stationed outside the hotel building.
According to Chintamani Sharma, the owner of Hotel Ashoka, the health workers, and the security officials have not entered the hotel rooms to inspect or monitor the people in quarantine. “The health workers are asking people to queue up outside the hotel to run their health checks,” he said. “I requested the authorities to provide facemasks and hand sanitisers to those in quarantine but nobody has come here with the essentials.”
Sharma says the local authority requested him to allow them to use the hotel as a quarantine facility until they make other arrangements but did not provide the provisions necessary to feed a large number of people. “Vegetables are hard to come by these days and the prices of food essentials are already up. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to support the ones living in the hotel without any help from the government,” he said.
The provincial government had earlier announced its plan to set up quarantine facilities that could accommodate 1,000 people. Nepal Army has prepared a 400-bed quarantine facility at Khulamanch of Birendranagar but it still lacks basic amenities. “We can’t move the returnees from the hotel to the quarantine facility in Khulamanch just yet. The facility still lacks basics like electricity, drinking water and toilets,” said Bimala KC, provincial minister for land management, agriculture and cooperatives.