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‘Fleeing’ coronavirus patients add to Maharashtra’s challenges

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on March 17, 2020 Published on March 17, 2020

State government seeks to make hospital quarantine ‘comfortable’

Holding back Covid-19 patients in hospital quarantine wards has become a major challenge for the State machinery in Maharashtra.

On Friday, a ‘positive’ patient fled the quarantine ward in Pimpri Chinchwad hospital in Pune district. He was subsequently brought back by the police, but by then he had already met family and friends in the city.

Expressing concern over the development, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the State government will put in all efforts to convince patients that there is no need to panic. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope has asked the administration to ensure that patients in quarantine wards across the State are made to feel comfortable, with all the basic facilities.

Across Maharashtra, 108 patients are in hospital quarantine wards while 1,063 are in home quarantine.

“We have to address the basic reason why patients don’t want to be in quarantine wards. They are grappled by fear. It is necessary for people to know why quarantine is a must and what it means,” Tope told reporters in Mumbai on Monday. He added that the State will provide patients with tea, food, newspapers and other daily requirements. With good quality basic service, patients will not face any problems in quarantine wards, he said.

The family members of the patient who fled last week have tested negative for the coronavirus. Pimpri Chinchwad has nine coronavirus positive patients while Pune has seven.

Patient stamping

The State government has decided to “stamp” people who have been quarantined at home. The move is aimed to ensure that they do not step out of their houses, said Tope.

Meanwhile, there are reports of neighbourhoods boycotting infected patients’ family members and not allowing people who have returned from abroad to enter their houses. Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said those found harassing people in self-quarantine will face criminal charges. Also, if a suspect patient in home quarantine violates norms, she or he will be forcibly quarantined at health institutions, he added.

Published on March 17, 2020
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