After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's alarming statement on 'home-quarantining' Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the Bengal health department on Monday, clarified that only primary and secondary contacts of COVID positive cases may be home-quarantined. The department added that even in home-quarantine, the person will be under close scrutiny by local authorities. It clarified that this does not apply to COVID positive cases who will be mandatorily brought to designated COVID-19 hospital.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee announced that her government will allow Coronavirus (COVID-19) positive patients to home-quarantine themselves if they wish to do so. She added that the government cannot quarantine lakhs and lakhs of people. Bengal currently has 649 cases with 20 deaths.
As per ICMR guidelines, home-quarantine is the preferred and initial step when individuals are suspect or contact of COVID-19 patients. However, ICMR has maintained that after 14-day home quarantine, once patient tests positive using RT-PCR swab, as per protocol - isolation, treatment and contact tracing must be initiated. Moreover, ICMR has stated that if a patient's symptoms worsen, he must be referred to designated COVID-19 hospitals. But if an individual tests positive for anti-body test, treatment in hospital or isolation as per protocol, must be followed - advises ICMR.
Currently, Bengal has been embroiled in a tussle with the Centre over the inter-ministerial central teams' visit, testing kits, PPEs, and the number of COVID deaths. The two Central teams which visited Bengal have reported several social distancing violations and non-cooperation from the state's side. Bengal government which has COVID-19 death audit panel has stated that while the audit committee has so far examined 57 deaths - only 18 are directly related to COVID-19, attributing remaining 39 deaths to severe co-morbid conditions - leading to huge controversy.