Individuals returning from quarantine centres are not adhering to home quarantine mandateCovid-19-infected people have started attending wedding ceremonies and are taking part in paddy transplantation and other social gatherings in their community, raising fears among the locals.
A week ago, more than 100 individuals staying in 28 quarantine facilities in Budhiganga Municipality, Bajura, were sent to their villages to quarantine at home. However, instead of self-isolating, these individuals have started attending wedding ceremonies, paddy transplantation and other social gatherings in the community, raising concerns among the locals of a possible Covid-19 outbreak.
On Monday, some Covid-19-infected individuals also participated in a ward meeting held in Budhiganga Municipality Ward No.1.
“Those who were sent home on condition of home quarantining have started to roam around the villages. They have also started getting involved in social gatherings without maintaining social distancing protocols,” Bhuwan Upadhyay, a local of the same ward, said.
Some individuals who were sent home have tested positive for the coronavirus. The results came out a few days after they returned home, they said.
“Authorities delayed releasing our PCR test results. We waited for more than a week for our results at the centre before we returned home a week ago,” said a 31-year-old man from Budhiganga-5 who tested positive for the virus a few days ago. “I have no symptoms of the disease. I have been going about my daily business since I returned home.”
Infected individuals have started participating in various community-level programmes and gatherings in other local units of Bajura as well. Birkha Saud, a resident of Badimalika Municipality in Bajura, said, “A couple of infected individuals attended wedding ceremonies in our municipality a few days ago. They have started to come out without adopting safety measures and are putting the entire local population at risk of contracting coronavirus.”
According to Hasta Khadayat, deputy coordinator at the health section of Budhiganga Municipality, quarantined people were allowed to go home on conditions that they self-isolate at home but hardly anyone followed the mandate.
“Test results of the infected were only released a week after they were sent home. Some were meeting their neighbours and going around the community before they received their results, while some are still continuing to step out of their homes even after testing positive for the virus,” he said. “We are now holding discussions on whether to bring them back to the quarantine centre or to keep them in home quarantine.”
The municipality does not have any data on the number of Covid-19-infected individuals who are currently staying in quarantine.
“The data showed that 223 infected individuals have been kept in isolation in Budhiganga. Among them, more than 130 might have been sent home,” said Khadayat.
Prakash Singh, a local of Budhiganga, said that the risk of Covid-19 outbreak in local communities is high due to the carelessness and mismanagement of local units.
“Suspects were sent home before their test results were out. This has increased the risk of community transmission of the virus. Even those who were sent home to self-isolate have not been monitored,” said Singh.
Mayor of Budhiganga Municipality Dipak Bikram Shah said, “The situation in Budhiganga has gone out of control. None of the Covid-19-infected individuals are following social distancing measures. We don’t have an environment to contact trace infected people. The municipality cannot take the entire responsibility alone.”
Meanwhile, Dayakrishna Pant, chief at the health office in Bajura, suspects that the virus might have already spread in the local communities.
“Many health workers and security personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 in Bajura. We cannot say that the virus hasn’t spread in the community,” said Pant. “How can we test everyone in the community when we cannot even test those in quarantine facilities?”
There are 163 quarantine facilities in Bajura but the health office does not have the exact data on the number of individuals in quarantine centres, isolation centres and home quarantines, according to Pant.
“On the basis of the federal government’s directive, we sent home all individuals who spent 14 days in quarantine on the condition that they self-isolate at home,” said Pant.
Until Sunday, 569 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Bajura. According to the data of the Health Ministry, seven health workers and four security personnel deployed in quarantine and isolation centres in the district have tested positive for the virus so far.