68 foreigners quarantined in Kollam

All of them were staying at the Mata Amritanandamayi Math

March 25, 2020 07:45 pm | Updated 07:45 pm IST - KOCHI

Two Italians and 66 other foreigners staying at the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, Kollam, have been shifted to a quarantine facility controlled by the Kollam district administration at the Math itself following suspicion of violations of quarantine and surveillance protocols.

“Prima facie, it appears that there has not been a complete compliance of quarantine and surveillance protocols at the Math,” B. Abdul Nasar, the Kollam District Collector told The Hindu .

The district administration has send throat swabs of foreigners for COVID-19 tests. It may take one or two days for results to arrive as the labs are flooded with samples. Till now, none in the visiting group has developed any symptoms of the disease, he said.

The first set of foreigners, including those from COVID-19-hit countries, arrived at the Math during the last week of February. The Italians came on March 4 and 5 and last batch arrived on March 7. Though they were staying at the Math during the last 20 days, the personal details and quarantine and surveillance protocols of the visitors were not fully shared by the Math with the authorities concerned. It was only on March 22 that the complete details were made available. Hence, they were shifted to the quarantine facility controlled by the district administration, reliable source said.

The administration took charge of the quarantine after summoning the Math authorities to the office of the District Collector and obtaining information from them. Incidentally, the Math had stopped the darshan of Mata Amritanandamayi to her devotees on March 6, after reports of the outbreak surfaced.

Going by the statements of the inmates and visitors, the foreigners had not gone out of the Math and established contacts with anyone. They confined themselves to the Math. These aspects need to be verified. The challenge before the administration is to carry out the contact tracing for the nearly 2,000 permanent inmates of the Math, the Collector said.

The District Medical Officer and the Kollam Revenue Divisional Officer have been asked to inquire into the reported lapses in the protocols. The details of the quarantine measures provided by the Math will also be reviewed. Legal measures, including the invocation of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, would be considered after obtaining the report, he said.

Math clarifies

The Math has been closely following the health instructions of the authorities, according to a communication issued by the Math.

The 58 foreigners, who reached the Math after February 25, have been put in home quarantine as instructed by the government. Though none of them has developed any signs of disease, they stayed indoors and avoided public interactions. They were also subjected to medical tests, the communication said.

All information related to those who have been quarantined at the Math and the precautions undertaken were communicated to the authorities, including the District Medical Officer. The reports that the Math has not followed the precautions were baseless, it said.

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