Covid-19: On why home quarantine is impossible for the majority of Indians

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on August 05, 2020

“Housing is a distant dream for many poor. Many live in a tin shed boxes what they call the house”   -  REUTERS

About 41 per cent of the houses have just a single room which is shared by about five persons

About 41 per cent households in India have just one room or don’t have an exclusive living room and about five people share such accommodations. About 32 per cent of households have two rooms and adding to the woes is the fact that only 47 per cent of households have access to water within the premises and 42 per cent don’t have a bathing facility within the premises.

The Census 2011 data shows that 4.3 per cent households in rural areas and 3.1 per cent in urban have no exclusive rooms. Over 39 per cent households in rural and 32.1 per cent urban areas have one room.

The active Covid-19 cases (5.86 lakh) account for 31.59 per cent of total positive cases and all are under medical supervision (as per August 4 data). As institutional facilities to quarantine are limited, many State governments are asking people to go for home quarantine. Home quarantine is applicable to contacts of a suspect or confirmed case of Covid-19. The home quarantine period is for 14 days from contact with a confirmed case or earlier if a suspect case turns out negative on laboratory testing.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s guideline on home quarantine states, “Stay in a well-ventilated single-room preferably with an attached/separate toilet. If another family member needs to stay in the same room, it’s advisable to maintain a distance of at least 1 meter between the two”. However, the room structures in the majority of households make it difficult for the people living there to follow the home quarantine guideline. The guideline adds that people in-home quarantine needs to stay away from elderly people, pregnant women, children, and persons with co-morbidities within the household.

The home quarantine becomes further difficult for people who don’t have basic facilities in the premise. About 36 per cent households have to fetch water from a source located within 500 m in rural areas and 100 m in urban areas. The slum houses-- poorly built congested tenements, in an unhygienic environment with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities make home quarantine impossible.

Fifty-six percent of households have pucca houses (houses made with high-quality materials throughout, including the floor, roof, and exterior walls) and 35 percent have semi-pucca houses.

“Housing is a distant dream for many poor. Many live in a tin shed boxes what they call the house,” says Osmanabad-based activist Sunanda Kharat adding that home quarantine is not a viable idea, especially for the poor.

Published on August 05, 2020

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