LEFT parties and organizations along with many prominent persons have raised the issue of sorry plight in quarantine centers inadequate pandemic control measures in Uttarakhand and have sent a letter to the CM of the state. They have prominently raised following issues.

Girl Dies in Quarantine Center in Uttarakhand

A four year old girl died due to snake bite at the quarantine center located in Talli Sethi, Betalghat Block, Nainital District. This may be the first instance of death by snake bite at a quarantine center, but the fact remains that the appalling conditions at quarantine centers are coming to light frequently. From Dehradun to remote Askot, from Rishikesh to Gairsain, quarantine centers are plagued by disorder and mismanagement.

CPIML along with local people in many areas have demanded that quarantine centers should be located in residential places only where there are adequate facilities and hygienic conditions. Non-residential buildings such as schools, Panchayat Bhavans etc devoid of basic necessities should not be made into quarantine centers. Moreover, it should be ensured that nutritious food of good quality is provided at the centers. Reports have come in recently of worm-ridden food being served at the Rishikesh center; and the food and serving utensils at Gairsain, Kapkot and other places were found to be of very poor quality.

The government has shirked its own responsibility by handing over the management of quarantine centers in villages to the village Pradhans without giving them any authority or the resources required. In this situation whole burden comes to the shoulders of village Pradhan, while the local administration is nowhere accountable in the entire scenario.  CPIML Nainital district secretary Kailash Pandey has said that the entire responsibility of managing quarantine centers should be directly vested in the powers of the local administrations and the government must be accountable.

COVID-19 Testing Must Increase

The rapid rate at which Corona is spreading in Uttarakhand makes it clear that there is an urgent need for increasing testing facilities. There is need for immediately arranging testing facilities at District and Block Head Quarters. People are returning to their native places on a large scale. Many of them are from Red Zones. The onus is not on the people returning from infection-impacted areas; it is the short-sightedness of the Central government which is responsible for keeping them back till the infection had spread, and then permitting them to return after a month into the Lockdown. We are seeing that a feeling of fear and stigma is being created against returning migrants.

Don’t Spread Fear and Stigma

The state machinery, administration and police personnel have, deliberately or involuntarily, become a part of spreading this fear and stigma against migrants. It is one thing to keep people isolated from the point of view of treatment and safety; but to stigmatize them is another matter. At present the relentless attempt to isolate and stigmatize returning migrants starts at the governmental level, and this is totally unacceptable.

Proper Medical Intervention Lacking

The medical interventions are required to prevent the spread of Corona should be done in an effective manner. The Uttarakhand High Court, in a directive issued with regard to a PIL, has said that only thermal screening is not sufficient; Rapid Antibody Testing should also be done. Our demand is that the State government should obey this High Court order and take adequate steps.

Adequate arrangements should also be made to protect those who are at the front line of the battle against Corona—doctors, nurses, health workers, ASHA and Anganwadi workers, Bhojan Matas, police personnel, PRDs, Home Guards etc. Proper arrangements should also be made for the health protection of drivers and conductors who work for inter-state and intra-state transportation of passengers. All these personnel should also have regular and frequent medical check-ups. The biggest challenge is to keep our health services in good fettle.

Therefore, enough doctors and other staff should be arranged with immediate effect for all primary health centers, community hospitals and government hospitals. As this is a time of crisis, the government should acquire all private hospitals for the crisis period.