India is considering stamping with indelible ink the hands of all international arrivals in the country to make it easier for the government to track and penalise people who evade the mandatory14-day home-quarantine that is needed to protect infected people with no symptoms or mild symptoms from spreading coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the community.
“With so many people resisting quarantine, the government is looking into hand stamping and fining people to enforce home quarantine. People should be more socially responsible, but with so many cases of people running away and breaking quarantine, we have to find ways to ensure compliance to protect the community from infection,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“Hospitals are overflowing, we need the beds for patients. With numbers growing, we can’t use hospital beds for suspected cases. Home-quarantine is necessary,” he said.
Hospitals, including AIIMS and Safdarjung, have cancelled elective surgeries and requested those people to reschedule appointments in the out-patient department after three weeks, if possible, to lower the risk of exposure to infection.
Travel restrictions, testing and social distancing, including home-quarantining suspected cases and people at risk, helped China stop community transmission, with the country reporting no new locally transmitted cases on Wednesday for the first time since early December. China has reported 81,000 cases and 3,245 deaths.
“People resisting being screened and quarantined has become a huge hurdle in infection control. With the infection spreading to almost all countries, the government will have to enforce home quarantine to stop infection,” said a senior public health expert, requesting anonymity.
Results from testing a small sample of around 1,000 cases hospitalised with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) across India found no community infection in India.
Since Monday, all arrivals at Mumbai airports have a “home quarantined” stamped on the back of their hand across with the date to show when their 14-day isolation is scheduled to end.
Maharashtra is the worst affected state in India, accounting for roughly a quarter of India’s Covid-19 cases.