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Kerala reduces mandatory quarantine to 7 days

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 23, 2020 | Last updated on September 23, 2020 at 04.11 pm
coronavirus, covid-19, kerala, quarantine, covid test

Following the end of the seven-day quarantine, all passengers must mandatorily undergo a Covid-19 test.

Kerala has relaxed the mandatory quarantine for international passengers arriving in the state to seven days from 14 days, a top state government official told Khaleej Times.

According to an order issued by the disaster management department, which has been signed by the state's chief secretary Dr Vishwas Mehta, "All those who visit other states and return to Kerala and all visitors of Kerala shall be advised to undergo quarantine for seven days."

Following the end of the seven-day quarantine, all passengers must mandatorily undergo a Covid-19 test from a testing laboratory nearest to their home in Kerala, the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management Principal Secretary Dr A Jayathilak told Khaleej Times.

The order added, "They can be tested on the seventh day after arrival and if tested negative, further quarantine of seven days is optional and not mandatory, though 14 days quarantine is desirable as per health protocol." Khaleej Times has also seen a copy of this order.

Rule applies to all international passengers

Dr A Jayathilak said, "The new rule is applicable to all international passengers as well and those carrying a pre-departure negative Covid-19 test result. They are not exempt from seven days of quarantine." The Covid-19 test at the end of seven days does not necessarily have to be an RT-PCR test, though it is highly recommended.

"It can be a rapid antigen test as well," he explained. "Following a negative test result, travellers can discontinue their quarantine. However, Dr Jayathilak reiterated that as per health protocols, it is highly recommended that they complete 14-days of quarantine.

"At the end of the seven days, passengers will receive a call from the health department requesting that they complete the test," he added. Passengers will be registered in Kerala state's Covid-19 Jagratha app. "They will have to provide us with a valid Indian mobile number upon reaching Kerala," he added.

Recently, the state government had issued an order stating that those who come to Kerala for short business purposes under seven days need not undergo mandatory quarantine. However, Dr Jayathilak clarified this by stating, "According to our research, only a fraction of the visitors coming to Kerala stay for under seven days. The new rule is applicable to everyone, superseding all older Covid-19 regulations."

"At any time during the course of their stay, if the passenger experiences Covid-19 symptoms, they must undergo the appropriate Covid-19 tests and undergo quarantine or treatment as prescribed by the state health department," said Dr Jayathilak.

'Majority travellers from UAE to India avail pre-departure RT-PCR test'

From the UAE, since the launch of the Vande Bharat Mission in May this year, a large majority of the over 360,000 Indians who returned to India on repatriation flights flew to Kerala. On a daily basis, scores of passengers continue to travel to Kerala to this day.

However, Neeraj Agarwal, Consul, press, information, and culture at the Consulate General of India in Dubai told Khaleej Times, "At least 80 per cent of the travellers going from UAE to India are now availing the RT-PCR test to avoid institutional quarantine and for safety reasons." RT-PCR tests for travel purposes are being provided to passenger for an amount as low as Dh150 and Dh190 for home testing services by NMC Hospital.

Each state in India has separate quarantine protocols. Most states continue to enforce a 14-day mandatory quarantine, with seven days of paid institutional quarantine followed by seven days of home quarantine. India's Covid-19 caseload has crossed the 5.6 million mark.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88


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