Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
On 16 March, I took a flight back from France and was asked at Delhi Airport to stay back for further testing which would then lead to quarantine, depending on the results of the COVID-19 test. This was around 6 am.
My experience in the two days after I landed has been the worst ever. It all started when we were made to gather with passengers across flights and taken to a makeshift quarantine centre – a police training camp that had been converted into a quarantine facility in Dwarka.
The authorities, who had also taken away our passports, told us that we’d have our test results in a day and would consequently be allowed to go back home. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
This facility was filthy – with unbearable bathrooms, rotten fruit in the cupboards, clogged toilets. There were eight beds per room. Men and women had to together share these rooms and bathrooms with no locks on the doors even.
This, only to find out that there is no testing and we are to stay for 14 days to prove our health.
After about eight hours, we got to eat lunch and drink water. After a lot of kicking and screaming we get our tests done and were told that the results would take 4-5 days as the testing centre was overloaded. The test kits where lying unattended on a table for another six hours –– no refrigeration!
The lady who was administering the test would sanitize her hands after every 2 to 3 patients, inspite of us telling her to do it after every patient.
Because we were getting agitated, an action task force was called but the two junior doctors in that team were just as clueless. During this time more people came in from the airports and it became an angry mob! Rightly so, for how we were being treated. Finally, some senior officials were called in and after negotiations, the ones that could afford to stay in a hotel were moved to three separate hotels (to break up the group).
At a Hotel after Much Ado
We were told to pay Rs 3,500 per day and the hotel management thought it was for all of 14 days. So they asked us to pay the entire amount upfront and everyone refused. They wanted to keep even husband and wife in separate rooms to help contain contamination. However, they didn’t seem to care that in the camp we were to sleep eight a room.
There were families of 4 and 6 members who were worried simply because they thought they had to pay Rs 2 to 3 lakhs just to be in quarantine.
Additionally, they didn’t seem to think that in the bus we were packed like sardines, each one carrying luggage of about 40 kgs having returned from locations across EU and UK.
Around 4 am the next day while we were all sleeping, some doctors showed up and after having a discussion with us, asked for us to go home. No waiting for test results, nothing! Government gave us no proof of being quarantined either. Having been tested, I don’t know who to call to get my results.
So, in summary, after a 15-hour journey we sat in the hot sun outside the facility and protested for food and water for another 15 hours before we got shifted to a hotel room.
Then the task was to request Air India to send us to our respective cities. Air India is the real star through this – the cancellation, preponement, postponement of tickets was for free and we were allowed to fly to our hometowns.
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