Kerala has decided to send people aged above 65 years on reverse quarantine during lockdown 3.0 as the magnitude of reverse migration to the state seems larger than what was anticipated.
Kerala has decided to send people aged above 65 years on reverse quarantine during lockdown 3.0 as the magnitude of reverse migration to the state seems larger than what was anticipated. The first batch of overseas returnees is slated to arrive on Thursday from Gulf countries.
“Reverse quarantine is a time-tested practice during the outbreak of any pandemic that’s yet to have a vaccine. While healthy youngsters may go out to fend for their livelihoods, Kerala government has directed people over 65 years and children below 10 years, in red zones, to stay safe indoors, without utilising the travel relaxations during lockdown 3.0,” state health minister KK Shailaja told FE.
Kerala is particular about maintaining its gains in Covid-19 mortality rate and is anxious about the potential influx of asymptomatic patients, as it opens doors to non-resident Keralites (NRK). In March, it was a handful of foreign returnees who turned an entire district into a red zone for weeks. It was just one asymptomatic NRK family that had put its 92-year old and 89-year old grandparents at the risk of Covid-19 infection. So, the policymakers are keen to tighten screws on the spread of the infection.
As many as 4.15 lakh NRIs have so far registered on the state government’s website to return to home. The state government, according to Dr S Irudayarajan, migration economist, is expecting return migration to the tune of 2 lakh people.
“We have set up committees, at the level of civic bodies, to monitor the health of those in reverse quarantine. Palliative care units will also be plied to address mental health,” says Dr Rajan Khobragade, state health secretary.
According to the data collected by accredited health workers (ASHA), 11% of the 40 lakh people in Kerala aged above 60 years, need extra healthcare.
About 59% of the elderly have hypertension or diabetics, which would make them vulnerable to complications due to co-morbidities, if they get Covid-19 infections.
Meanwhile out of those, planning to return from Gulf, 61,009 have lost their jobs. Over 9,000 registrations are those of pregnant women, 10,628 children and 2,902 are students. These will have priority as the Union government rolls out the evacuation plans.
“We have developed a quarantine protocol for both the overseas returnees and for about 1.5 lakh Keralites stranded in other Indian states due to the lockdown and are keen to return,” says state chief secretary Tom Jose. The Kerala government has readied 3 lakh corona quarantine beds for those overseas returnees who do not have the wherewithal to go on home quarantine.