The coronavirus has now spread to all parts of the world. In India, even a three-month lockdown has not been able to bring the virus under control. Given the situation, there is a need for us to reconsider the quarantine policy we are currently pursuing to fight COVID-19.
Ever since the pandemic broke out, those coming from outside are put in quarantine. Kerala started quarantining people coming from outside since January. The state has been strictly following the practice of putting anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 in quarantine for a specific period. People have accepted this practice as they see it as a necessary measure to control the spread of the disease.
Kerala has been keeping those coming from other countries and states in quarantine for 14 days. Similarly, other states, too, put those going from Kerala in quarantine. However, there have been cases of people going from Kerala testing positive in Tamil Nadu and those coming from outside testing positive for the virus in Kerala.
It is not enough to just quarantine people who come from places with high cases of COVID-19. In foreign countries, those who have suffered misery are finding it difficult to get back to normal life when they return from outside.
The government has to spend a huge amount of money on quarantine facilities. Also, it cannot be said that the current quarantine policy has any basis in the science of infectious diseases.
What really scares us is the unreasonable fear of the death that COVID causes. In Kerala, about 20 people have died in 3-4 months due to COVID. However, over 10 people die daily in road accidents in the state. But would that mean that we prohibit transport facilities?
Kerala should be able to bring about changes in its quarantine policy and become a model for other states, too.
(The author is a professor of community medicine at Amrita Hospital)