As hundreds of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) stranded across the globe are repatriated to India, states in the south have put in place measures and facilities to ensure there is no spike in COVID-19 infections following their return.
While all foreign returnees will have to mandatorily undergo quarantine, southern states have come up with a range of options to house and observe NRIs during the 14-day period. All states have free and paid option for foreign returnees- it can range from a homestay to a five-star hotel, but if a passenger opts for paid stay, then h/she is liable to make the payment.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) dated May 9 categorises patients into two - symptomatic and asymptomatic. Those who are symptomatic will be referred to a designated COVID health centre (DCHC), where their samples will be collected and they will be isolated. Those whose samples return negative will continue institutional isolation for 14 days and be tested again on the 14th day of arrival.
Those who are asymptomatic at the time of arrival will be sent to institutional quarantine for 14 days. These passengers will also be tested and shifted depending on their results.
As far as institutional quarantine goes in Karnataka, there is a free and paid option for foreign returnees. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to make arrangements at youth hostels and marriage halls for those who wish to be accommodated for free during the quarantine period. The full list of these facilities, however, will be available only on Tuesday evening.
The Karnataka government together with the BBMP has come up with a three-tier option for those who want to pay and check themselves in a hotel in Bengaluru for quarantine. In the budget category, the state has approved 40 hotels with 1576 rooms. Individuals availing this option will have to pay either Rs 900 or Rs 1200 per day depending on the room and is inclusive of three meals.
Under the three star category, state officials have approved 26 hotels with 1927 rooms. For single occupancy, the room charges are Rs 1850 per day including three meals while double occupancy is Rs 2450 per day.
There are 18 hotels with 2565 rooms approved by officials under the five star category. While the average price of the room for single occupancy is Rs 4100 per day inclusive of three meals, for double occupancy the price is Rs 5900 per day with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Passengers returning to Tamil Nadu from other countries will be tested and their samples will be collected at the airport.
According to a Government Order (GO), passengers who test positive for the novel coronavirus will be sent to hospitals and those whose test returns negative will continue to stay at institutionalised quarantine centres or at designated hotels for a period of seven days. On the seventh day, their samples will be tested once again and if it returns negative, they will be sent home and asked to be on 14-day home quarantine.
Passengers who will be sent to Institutionalised quarantine centres can choose from the different accommodations based on price range.
“We have hotels under different segments for passengers coming in from foreign countries to choose from, this includes Royal Regency, OYO T Nagar and Hilton. Rooms are available from Rs 1000 to Rs 2500 with food. If they would like for free accommodation, we take them to the VIT hostels in Chengalpattu,” says an official from Chennai Corporation.
According to a press release issued by Greater Chennai Corporation, on May 9, 358 passengers reached Chennai from Dubai. Eighty-two of them were taken to Royal Regency on Poonamallee High Road while 24 were taken to Hilton Hotel, Guindy. The rest were accommodated at VIT University hostels, that comes under the purview of Chengalpattu district.
On May 10, of the 177 passengers who returned home, 45 were lodged at Royal Regency Hotel, 42 at Oyo Hotel in T Nagar and 26 at Hilton Hotel. The rest have been taken to VIT University.
In Coimbatore too, passengers coming in from foreign countries are being accommodated at private hotels. An official of the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation said, “We have arranged for 3,500 rooms to quarantine people returning from the foreign countries. Of the 3,500 rooms, we have booked 2,000 rooms in private hotels and arranged 1,000 rooms from the government side by converting colleges and other institutions.”
So far, there are no international repatriation flights landing directly in Andhra Pradesh. However, officials have put in place quarantine facilities for foreign returnees who are mostly arriving from Hyderabad in Telangana. All of these foreign returnees are being tested for the novel coronavirus.
Principal Secretary for Transport and COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson M T Krishna Babu said that these foreign returnees will be brought from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, where they will be placed in quarantine centres. In case there are more than 50 people from a particular district, they will be sent to their home district. In either case, they are required to stay at a quarantine centre for 14 days and then remain under home quarantine for another 14 days.
Wilson Babu, Vice Chairperson of Machilipatnam Urban Development Authority and district nodal officer for COVID-19 said that there is no differentiation in the quarantine centres for people returning from other states, or other countries. For those who can afford to pay for hotel accommodation, upto 1019 hotel rooms are available as quarantine facilities in 17 hotels in and around Vijayawada.
Wilson Babu said that the people staying at quarantine centres will all be monitored and tested. Those who test positive for COVID-19 and show mild symptoms will be moved to the nodal COVID-19 care centres set up in hostel buildings of Narayana and Sri Chaitanya Junior Colleges in Gudavalli. In case anyone starts to show severe symptoms and needs critical care, they will be sent to a COVID-19 hospital.
In Krishna district, 34 government quarantine centres with a capacity of around 2000 beds have been set up in preparation for people returning from other states and countries. As of Monday, 266 people are residing in these centres, leaving 1,736 beds available.
All foreign returnees in Telangana will be tested on arrival and quarantined for 14 days . While those who are symptomatic will be taken to state-run Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, those who are asymptomatic will be quarantined in a government approved facility.
The Telangana government has two packages for the quarantining of foreign returnees - premium and standard. Under premium, a stay of 14-days at five-star hotels like Sheraton Grand will cost Rs 30,000, and at standard hotels the returnees would have to shell out Rs 15,000. This is inclusive of meals.
Presently, Sheraton Grand, Hotel Harsha and Kamat Lingapur Hotel in Hyderabad are accommodating foreign returnees. “As the crowd keeps increasing, we will arrange accommodation in other hotels,” said a tourism official.
All those flying from abroad will be screened at airports. Those who display symptoms on arrival will be taken to the hospital and tested. Those who test positive will continue to be in hospital, while those whose samples return negative will be shifted to a quarantine facility for the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days.
Those who are asymptomatic on arrival will also be tested at the quarantine centres. However, they have two options to choose from for their quarantine accommodation - the government-run facility which is free or a hotel room, which they will have to pay for.
In Thiruvananthapuram, government institutional quarantine for a total occupancy of 11,217 people has been arranged. In addition to this, 178 extra halls have also been arranged in case the number of returnees increase.
As far as paid quarantine is concerned, 261 hotels with tariff ranging from Rs 1500 per day and above have been approved by officials. These hotels can accommodate over 6400 people.
In Ernakulam, at least 10 institutional facilities have been set up by district. These are: Alfa Pastoral center Edakochi, NS Jist Hospital Manjali, Jyothir Bhavan Kalamassery, Assisi Shanthi Kendram Karukutti, Ashiyana Ladies hostel Kakkanad, Rajagiri hostel Kalamassery, SCMS hostel palissery, SCMS hostel Muttam, Rajagiri hostel Kakkanad, Nest Muvattupuzha.
For those availing paid quarantine in Ernakulam, the district has come up with an SOP for foreign returnees. It states that passengers must report to the designated institutional quarantine before going to their paid quarantine facility. At least four hotels -KTDC Bolgatty Palace Hotel, Lotus 8 Apart Hotel, Taj Malabar Resort Willingdon Island, Taj Gateway Hotel - have been approved by officials for the quarantining.