In a major development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Monday 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.
#WATCH We have taken a decision, if a person is tested positive for #COVID19 and he has provision to isolate himself at his residence, the person can home quarantine himself. Lakhs & lakhs of people can't be quarantined, govt has its own limit: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee pic.twitter.com/nn8sHvodxY— ANI (@ANI) April 27, 2020
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 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. Moreover, Bengal has accused Centre of not sending adequate PPEs and ICMR of sending faulty test kits - both claims have been refuted by Centre.
The biggest point of contention has been the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths. 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. The MHA too has sent several warnings to Banerjee highlighting several lockdown violations in the state.