Centre issues guidelines for quarantine of abroad returnees

New Delhi: As India carries out one of the world’s biggest rescue mission for stranded Indians abroad, Vande Bharat, amid novel coronavirus pandemic, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued additional guidelines for quarantine of returnees from abroad, their contacts and isolation of suspects or confirmed cases in private facilities.

In the guidelines issued on Thursday, the Health Ministry has said there are a large number of facilities such as hotels, service apartments, lodges which remain unoccupied due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism. There are also instances where people who don’t have the requisite space at home may opt for such facilities. This is likely to reduce the pressure on the family, give comfort to the person, and protect the family members and immediate neighbourhood.

The ministry has directed the owners of the facilities to make them either a quarantine or isolation facilities as they cannot co-exist. These facilities will offer single room on a paid basis to contacts and cases with attached washrooms. The ministry said the tariff for the accommodation and services shall be fixed by the facility in consultation with the state government and widely publicised.

Those who are clinically assessed to be pre-symptomatic or very mild shall only be kept in an isolation facility. The ministry said that facility dedicated for isolation will follow the norms established for COVID Care Centres by the Central government.

“Such facility that opts for isolation will have separate earmarked areas for keeping suspect cases and confirmed cases and will ensure no inter-mingling of these two categories. The contact or patient opting for such quarantine or isolation facility will give an undertaking available at the ministry’s website,” said the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry also asked the owners of the facilities to ensure in-house availability of a trained doctor and a nurse on 24X7 basis. The doctor will monitor the contacts or cases in quarantine/isolation facilities once a day on basic parameters of temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and pulse oximetry and keep record of the same. He shall also inform the District Surveillance Officer regarding the list of cases/contacts admitted to such facility and their health status. The facility should network with an approved laboratory for testing samples as per the ICMR guidelines. The quarantined or isolated persons should not be allowed to meet visitors however, the ministry said, they could talk on the phone.

The Ministry also said that the facility should have wifi service and ensure that the people availing the facilities must download Aarogya Setu App on their mobiles.

The Ministry also has asked the owners to provide fresh food through room service with adequate physical distancing. The linens, towels, etc. and rooms should be disinfected and the facility will follow infection prevention and control practices as per the guidelines and the staff should be trained to call free ambulance service at 108 or other ambulance as per the requirement. The discharge of the contacts/cases from the facility will be in accordance with the discharge policy, said the Health Ministry.


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