Tribal people from a hamlet in Mananthavady in Kerala's Wayanad district, who were positive for the novel coronavirus, had to sleep on the floor of a school classroom on May 13 as the municipality failed to provide proper facilities. Seventeen of them had tested positive, and among them was a one-year-old, two children, a pregnant woman and one patient who is 75 years old.
The 17 people from the Varadimoola tribal hamlet tested positive on May 13. As they did not have any facility at their colony to stay in isolation, they informed the Mananthavady municipality in order to arrange a quarantine facility. Many of them were living in a one-room or two-room house.
"We contacted the municipal chairperson many times. Initially, they asked them to stay in the colony itself. But, that was not possible as they had no such space for quarantine. After repeated requests, they were taken to the St Patrick's School in Mananthavady which was converted to a Domiciliary Care Centre (DCC). But there were no beds left there, all these people with these small children had to lie down on the floor," said Sunil Kumar, a municipality ward councillor. Some of the patients had small floor mats with them on which they slept. Some others joined together the benches in the classroom and slept on them. The patients also struggled to sleep as it was cold.
Although earlier the municipality had informed that they have arranged a staying facility for over 100 people, the councillor Sunil said that there were only beds for 66 people in the school.
Due to outrage after the incident, the municipality had tried to shift the patients to a nearby panchayat but the patients were not in a state to travel another 12 km as they were all tired. On May 14, the municipality provided them with some cotton mattresses.
Authorities claimed that they couldn't arrange a bed immediately but that they provided a bed to the women in the group. However, the patients alleged that all women did not get beds. Some women got beds, including the woman with the baby.
Wayanad has one of the lowest counts of COVID-19 cases in Kerala. On May 13, 787 cases were reported in the district. A total of 15,350 patients are currently under treatment in Wayanad. There are also reports that more than 500 beds for COVID patients are vacant in the district at various centres.