Not 14, 28 Days Quarantine Must For Coronavirus Suspects: ITBP Doc

Chief Medical Officer of ITBP at Delhi’s Chhawla centre explains how the evacuees are being properly isolated. 

3 min read
Between 1 February to 14 March, 518 people were kept in different batches in the Chhawla quarantine facility and were released after being tested negative.

At New Delhi’s Chhawla centre, the testing on patients who could have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is being carried out non-stop. The biggest quarantine facility in India, the camp is run by the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to quarantine Indians evacuated from coronavirus-hit countries.

The facility houses 1,000 beds and has a medical staff of between 35 and 40.

Dr AP Joshi, the Chief Medical Officer of the ITBP, tells The Quint how he and his staff are ensuring that possible coronavirus patients are properly isolated before they could return to their homes.

How do you ensure that every person in quarantine is safe?

When a person reaches our quarantine from abroad, we strictly instruct them to wear masks at all times because everybody’s test reports are pending then. There is a sufficient gap between the beds of every individual. We allow limited people to have food in pantry to avoid crowd.

The Chhawla quarantine facility.
The Chhawla quarantine facility.
(Image: ITBP)

How are tests conducted on them?

A person who has returned to India from abroad is technically quarantined for 28 days. He/she is in hospital quarantine for 14 days and 14 days in home quarantine.

The first sampling is done immediately after their arrival at the quarantine and the second sampling is done on the 14th day because in some cases virus develops in five to 10 days. If the test result on the 14th day is negative, then we discharge the person from the quarantine after a couple of days. During the discharge, the person is instructed and explained how to go on home quarantine for 14 days.

He/she is strictly instructed to not meet any elderly person during home quarantine because they are more vulnerable to coronavirus. The surveillance officers at ITBP quarantine record complete details of individuals during their discharge and also keep a track of all them during their home quarantine.

Chhawla quarantine facility.
Chhawla quarantine facility.
(Image: ITBP)

How are doctors at quarantine coping?

It is indeed a big challenge for us. We keep monitoring our health on a regular basis. Most of the doctors are staying in quarantine and not going home. If at all any doctor plans to go home, he/she takes proper precautions.

What are the challenges that we are likely to face in future?

Coronavirus is an infection that spreads very fast. But all of us need to understand that we should not go into a panic mode and start hoarding masks and sanitizers. Only a coronavirus patient or a suspected patient and medical staff who are attending them are required to wear masks.

So, is there a sufficient supply of medical equipment?

Right now, we do not have any shortage of medical equipment. If panic continues like this, then there will be a time when people who actually need will not get medical equipment. And we do not know how long will it take to contain the virus. It could take at least one month.

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