Sadananda Gowda, who arrived in Bengaluru from Delhi, has said that these rules apply to citizens but not to him, as he has important responsibilities.

Cant equate me with others Union Min refuses to undergo institutional quarantinePTI file image
news Coronavirus Monday, May 25, 2020 - 15:40

Union Minister Sadananda Gowda landed in Bengaluru on Monday and has refused to quarantine himself, as is the norm for any individual arriving by flight into Karnataka. The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers was seen exiting Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport on Monday morning and then sitting in his private vehicle and driving away. 

Karnataka has made a seven-day institutional quarantine mandatory for all passengers travelling via domestic flights from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. This was announced in a new set of guidelines issued by the state on Saturday, May 23. The guidelines state that from the fifth to seventh day of the institutional quarantine, swab samples of the individuals will be taken, and if the test results are negative, then only can they return home, where they must remain in home quarantine for the next seven days.

However, the minister, who arrived from New Delhi, has not quarantined himself. He has justified it, saying that these rules apply to citizens but not to him, as he has important responsibilities like ensuring the supply of medicines and pharma products.

“Practically, the guidelines are applicable to each and every citizen, I do concede. But are certain persons exempted from quarantining, those who hold certain responsible posts,” the minister told ANI. “So, I am a minister, I am heading the pharma ministry and I should see that in each and every corner of the country there should be sufficient supply of medicines. If the supply of medicine is not properly done, what can doctors do for the patients? If the supply of medicines is not done properly by the government, is it not a failure of the government?” he asked.

He added that even doctors and nurses have to come to work, and asked who would fight coronavirus if they decided to quarantine themselves and are not allowed to work. In the video shared by ANI, the minister then also whipped out his phone and then proceeded to show the Aarogya Setu app to the reporter.

“See, I have the Aarogya Setu app. In the app, see, it is green, you are safe. Apart from this, I used to attend office in Delhi and once every 3-4 days, the doctors in AIIMS checked me also. If I don’t supply medicines, what will happen? Coronavirus will double, triple. I have a meeting with other ministers at 4 pm to check the supply of medicines. If I am quarantined, then who will ensure all this? They cannot equate me with other persons,” the minister added. 

He also alleged that there are certain exemptions granted to individuals. 

“I could have come from Delhi by some other chartered flight. But being a minister, I chose to travel only when the flights started, and when I am exempted under the clause by the state and the Centre,” he says in the video.

The Karnataka government’s guidelines exempt those below the age of 10 years, pregnant women, senior citizens who are aged 80 years and above, and the terminally ill flyers and travellers from mandatory institutional quarantine. One attendant, who is with any of these categories of persons mentioned above, will also be exempt from mandatory institutional quarantine, the guidelines state. Health care professionals and those in the armed forces are also exempt from mandatory institutional quarantine.

However, no mention of ministers is made in the exemptions for institutional quarantine.

BJP spokesperson Prakash told TNM that the minister does not need to be under institutional quarantine since he is under home quarantine. However, the minister noted that he was set to hold a meeting at 4 pm, which would be in violation of home quarantine rules.

"If he is cleared by ICMR test 48 hours before arrival, he does not have to be in institutional quarantine. However, it is not clear whether he underwent the test,” BJP spokesperson Prakash said. 

Karnataka has been witnessing a high number of cases in the past one week, with most of them being those who have travelled from places like Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, which have reported high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

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