The Congress alleged that minister AC Moideen had come in contact with high-risk contacts of two COVID-19 patients who had returned from Abu Dhabi on May 7.

Congress leaders, who are in quarantine, start hunger strike at their houses. MLA Anil Akkara and MP TN Prathapan
Coronavirus Protest Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 15:21

Two Congress leaders – Member of Parliament (MP) TN Prathapan and Member of Kerala Legislative Assembly (MLA) Anil Akkara – are on a hunger strike, protesting against Thrissur Medical Board’s decision ruling out home quarantine for AC Moideen, the Minister for Local Self Government.

The Congress party alleged that AC Moideen had come in contact with high-risk contacts of two COVID-19 patients, who had returned from UAE, at the government quarantine facility in Thrissur’s Guruvayur. However, since there was allegedly no evidence to establish that the minister had come in contact with the patients, the Thrissur Medical Board, on Monday, said he need not go into quarantine.

It must be noted that Prathapan and Anil Akkara, along with three other Congress leaders in the state, were directed to go into quarantine by the Palakkad Medical Board, as they were near a 44-year-old COVID-19 patient during a protest on May 9 at the Walayar checkpost.

On May 9, around 10 am, the 44-year-old man and eight others had reached the Walayar checkpost from Chennai. Since they did not have entry passes, they were not allowed to cross. The same day, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) reached Walayar and met people stranded near the checkpost.

While Palakkad MP VK Sreekandan reached the checkpost in the morning, Prathapan, Alathur MP Ramya Haridas, Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil and Anil Akkara reached in the evening. They protested, alleging CPI(M)-led Kerala government’s inaction in helping Malayalis stranded in other states and countries, as well as the workers in traditional sectors.

While the eight fellow travellers were considered high-risk primary contacts, the five Congress leaders and others in the vicinity – travellers, police, journalists – were included in the low-risk primary contacts. On May 14, the Palakkad Medical Board asked the low-risk primary contacts to go into quarantine as well.

“How are medical boards in Thrissur and Palakkad different?” asked Anil Akkara, questioning the rationale behind not sending AC Moideen to quarantine.

“Wouldn’t a person who has come in contact with five coronavirus-positive patients be considered a high-risk contact? Wouldn’t Minister AC Moideen, like us, be considered a low-risk primary contact? Since he took part in the Cabinet meeting on May 13, wouldn’t the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and other ministers be included in the contact list?” he wrote on his Facebook page on Monday?

Incidentally, a photograph of Moideen interacting with a few passengers, who returned from Abu Dhabi on May 7, at the institutional quarantine centre in Guruvayur, was published in a Malayalam newspaper. Among those at this quarantine facility, two had tested positive on May 10.

Posted by Vysakh Thamaraparambil on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pointing this out, Congress had submitted a complaint to the Thrissur District Medical Officer. After examining twice, the Thrissur Medical Board said there was no evidence to show that the Minister had any contact or was at risk of contracting the virus. While he has been asked not to attend any events till May 26, the Board did not ask him to go into quarantine.

TN Prathapan and Anil Akkara are on hunger strike at their respective houses since they are in quarantine, while other leaders are protesting in front of the Civil Station in Thrissur. 

“It is sad that I have to go on a hunger strike from my own house while in quarantine. Please stop all political biases during a crisis. Let the government not forget that we are supposed to work together in this fight against COVID-19,” wrote Prathapan on his Facebook page. 

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