Quarantine centres and manageable capability

Chief Minister N Biren's warning that inmates who violate the rules and regulations of quarantine centres will be sent to jail under the Disaster Management Act indicates that certain developments in the process have not been sailing smooth.

By Wednesday, June 10, 6.30 pm, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Manipur increased to 311 and the number of active cases to 248. The total figure includes two women who were confirmed as new positive cases at the Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VDRL), Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS). Both were returnees from other states. On Tuesday, all 868 samples which were tested at the VRDL of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal turned out to be negative. The figures available on Tuesday said that as many as 19,854 tests have been conducted in the state so far. The rates of test per million population has now improved to 6,966.

Despite the increasing numbers of confirmed cases, Manipur has been fortunate in the sense that the state has so far not recorded any death caused by COVID-19. This does not mean “all is well” in the way how the authorities have been handling the quarantine centres. Chief minister N Biren’s had warned that the inmates of quarantine centres who violated the rules will be sent to jail under the Disaster Management Act (DMA).This indicates that certain developments in the process have not been sailing smooth. The chief minister has apparently instructed the authorities to strictly enforce the rules and regulations to be followed inside the quarantine centres. He had reasons to admonish those inmates who do not wear face masks, follow physical distancing norms and others. N Biren further appealed the people to follow the guidelines and rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The chief minister’s veiled outburst also coincided with the news that 67 quarantined inmates of Diligent High School, Moirang will be shifted to Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School on Wednesday. It has been learnt that in the Diligent High School quarantine centre, there were a total of 103 inmates. Of these, 34 confirmed active cases had been shifted to Bishnupur District Hospital isolation ward on Monday night and two positive cases were admitted at the JNIMS earlier. The decision of the district authority to shift to a news quarantine centre also indicated that fact that the earlier centre was either over-packed with inmates beyond the manageable capability or the administration totally failed to anticipate an impending risk. The chief minister may be right in pointing out that some inmates of certain quarantine centres were breaking the rules by not properly following the imposed rules of quarantine.

However, it was the irresponsibility of those who were supposed to supervise the day today conditions of the inmates and the centre. 36 positive cases out of 103 inmates from a single quarantine centre alludes to the possibility of these inmates contracting the virus in-house. And no one seems to be sure beyond the fact that 36 have been tested positive in a single quarantine centre that housed 103 inmates.

If one may recall, On May 19, the Manipur health directorate has identified 130 institutional or government approved quarantine centres that can accommodate around 7,000 inmates. As per information received from the directorate, 33 institutional quarantine centres which had the capacity of 2,000 people were already functioning then. The state government has also identified 130 such quarantine centres in various parts of the state. Identification is being done to prevent the problem of shortage of quarantine centres. Around 360 community quarantine centres have opened in all the districts. The number may increase according to time and situation. However, there is a serious need to see that no quarantine centres are overcrowded.

 

First Published:June 11, 2020, 11:45 a.m.