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HomeIndiaRajasthan’s COVID-19 headache — travellers skip screening, suspected cases flee quarantine 

Rajasthan’s COVID-19 headache — travellers skip screening, suspected cases flee quarantine 

The state has had to grapple with travellers from affected countries heading home straight from Delhi while some in isolation have fled their wards. 

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Jaipur: Those suspected of having contracted the coronavirus have been giving government authorities in Rajasthan a tough time by not only skipping screening and tests at airports, but also giving them a slip while being kept in isolation at hospitals.  

As of Sunday, there are 29 COVID-19 positive cases in Rajasthan with the state also reporting its first death Friday, 20 March. 

While the government claims stringent screening of visitors with a travel history to affected countries is being done, a couple that had visited Spain hired a taxi from Delhi to reach Jaipur. They stayed at a hotel for an hour on 19 March before going to the Sawai Man Singh Hospital, where there is an isolation ward, in Jaipur. They have tested positive for COVID-19.  

“The hotel rooms have been sealed and the people who came in contact with them have been identified. Two drivers and four of the hotel staff have been kept in isolation,” additional chief secretary (health) Rohit Kumar Singh told PTI, adding that the others showed no symptoms of the infection as of now.   

In yet another such case, a woman who returned from the US went home straight to Jaipur on 16 March. She has since tested positive. Having learnt of her positive test, the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of her housing complex in the outskirts of the city has imposed a self-declared curfew. 

Then on 19 March, a 24-year-old youth who worked in a hotel in Switzerland went straight to his village of Phagi, 55 km from Jaipur, from Delhi airport. He has tested positive.  

If that wasn’t enough, a couple that had returned from Italy on 8 March went home straight to Jhunjhunu. The couple, who have tested positive along with their three-year-old daughter, allegedly held a party for their friends before their condition deteriorated. They were finally shifted to the SMS hospital in Jaipur on 19 March.  

The state has also had to grapple with suspected patients fleeing quarantine. 

On 2 February, two men who had travelled from China had fled quarantine in Udaipur.  They had travelled on the same flight from China along with a woman student from Kerala who has tested positive. Both the passengers were under surveillance in Udaipur but they escaped quarantine and reached Jaipur. Once the local administration realised that they were in Jaipur, it immediately admitted them to the isolation ward of SMS hospital.

They have, however, tested negative for the coronavirus.

On 4 March, suspected patients who were kept in isolation at the Rajasthan University of Health Sciences (RUHS) Hospital in Jaipur were found roaming around the premises. One of them, an Italian woman, was later found positive.   

Also read: India locks down to prevent COVID-19 spread — here are restrictions imposed in your state

Authorities face flak for ‘lax’ action

The state authorities have also faced flak for their response to the crisis. 

The district administration of Jaipur woke up only on 20 March to ban a religious fair in Jobner. The fair is a month-long affair and people had begun streaming into the city after Holi on 10 March. 

The administration, however, only took action after news of the mela went viral on social media.

Even good news emanating from the state has now been dampened. 

The Rajasthan government had on 16 March claimed that three coronavirus patients had been cured. One of them, 69-year-old Italian tourist Andrey Carly, however, died in a private hospital on 20 March.

The state government is now claiming that Carly died of heart failure. 

“The tourist had a massive cardiac arrest late Thursday night (19 March) and he passed away,” SMS Medical College principal Sudhir Bhandari said. 

Health Minister Dr. Raghu Sharma claimed that Carly had recovered from the coronavirus and had been shifted to a private hospital on his request for treatment of other illnesses. “The sexagenarian was a heart and lungs patient. He had recovered from COVID-19 at the SMS Hospital,” Dr. Bhandari said. 

Carly and his wife had tested positive. They were part of a 23-member group of Italian tourists. This is the same Italian tourist group whose 16 members had earlier tested positive. 

The wife later turned negative but Andrey was treated at the state’s biggest SMS hospital where the authorities claimed that they had cured three coronavirus patients with combination of swine flu, malaria and HIV medicines.

Also read: India’s rich are passing coronavirus to the poor, but not offering monetary help

Fear of COVID-19 cluster in Bhilwara

According to official data, the state government had surveyed 10,97,034 homes and screened 43,70,841 people in the state. 

Health minister Dr. Raghu Sharma however, said there were fears that the situation could go out of control at the textile hub of Bhilwara where three doctors in a private hospital have tested positive. “When a doctor tests positive, it really is a scary situation from the community infection point of view,” he said. 

The minister added that the hospital has 253 employees. “It is yet to be ascertained how many of them have been passed on the contagion,” he said adding that this is why curfew has been imposed in the city. The Bhilwara administration is also contemplating sealing the border with adjoining districts.

As of Sunday evening, the total cases in Bhilwara had risen to 14. 

Also read: Why coronavirus crisis is a make-or-break moment for PM Modi and many CMs

State in complete lockdown

With the fears the situation could worsen, the state government Saturday ordered a complete lockdown, keeping only departments of essential services like health, electricity, water, police, finance, food & civil supplies, IT and transport out of it. 

All bars, spas, hotels, restaurants, clubs and gyms have been asked to close down until further orders. The state government has asked industrial workers to be given work from home with paid leave. MNREGA work has been stopped until 31 March. All examinations have also been cancelled.  

On the request of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, religious leaders have issued an appeal to the people to stop visits to places of worship and pray at home until the situation improves. Major religious places such as the Sanwaliya, Khatushyam, Salasar Balaji and Brahma temples have been closed. The Ajmer dargah has decided to keep only two gates open instead of seven. 

Prohibitory orders have been imposed in the state and those who violate it would be charged under Section 188 of the IPC. 

The state government has, however, shifted 484 people who were evacuated from COVID-19 affected countries by Air India to army medical facility in Jaisalmer. It was created in just a month by the Army. 

Also read: IIT-Delhi researchers develop ‘cheaper’ test kits for COVID-19, undergoing clinical trial


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