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Fresh returnees from abroad may opt for paid quarantine, isolation facilities: Health ministry

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New Delhi, May 7: Returnees from abroad, suspect or confirmed cases of COVID-19 or their contacts coming from outside India may opt for paid facilities such as hotels, service apartments and lodges for self-quarantine or isolation if they do not have requisite space at home, the Union Health ministry said on Thursday.

Fresh returnees from abroad may opt for paid quarantine, isolation facilities: Health ministry

In the 'Additional guidelines for quarantine of returnees from abroad/contacts/ isolation of suspect or confirmed cases in private facilities', released on Thursday evening, the ministry said there are large number of facilities such as hotels, service apartments and lodges which are "unoccupied due to impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism".

"There are also instances where people who don't have requisite space at home may opt for such facilities," the ministry said.

This is likely to reduce the pressure on the family, give comfort to the person, and protect the family members and immediate neighbourhood, it stated. The guidelines were issued after the government initiated the process of bringing back stranded Indians from a few countries.

According to the standard operating procedures, the quarantine and isolation facility will not co-exist and these facilities will offer single room on pay basis to contacts or cases with attached washrooms. The tariff for the accommodation and services shall be fixed by the facility in consultation with the state government and widely publicised.

The facility dedicated for isolation will follow the norms established for COVID Care Centres and the cases clinically assessed to be pre-symptomatic or very mild should only be kept. Such facility that opts for isolation will have separate earmarked areas for keeping suspect cases and confirmed cases and will ensure no inter-mingling of these two categories, the guidelines stated.

The owner of the quarantine or isolation facility will have ensure in-house availability of a trained doctor and a nurse on 24x7 basis.

The doctor will monitor the contacts or cases in quarantine or isolation facilities once a day on basic parameters of temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and pulse oxymetry and keep record of the same, the guidelines stated. The doctor will also inform the district surveillance officer regarding the list of cases or contacts admitted to such facility and their health status.

The facility should network with an approved laboratory for testing samples according to ICMR guidelines and the quarantined or isolated persons should not be allowed to meet visitors.

"They can talk on phone. The facility will provide wi-fi facility and ensure that the client downloads the Aarogya Setu app on mobile and it should remain active at all times. "The linens, towels etc and rooms should be disinfected and the facility will follow infection prevention control practices as per guidelines," the SOPs said.

The in-house catering should only provide room services for freshly cooked food duly following physical distancing and environmental sanitation. The facility owner will have to give an undertaking to follow the SOP and to have adequate manpower including the above mentioned health workers as per the prescribed protocol, the ministry said.

On Thursday, two Air India Express flights left Kerala for the UAE as India set in motion the exercise to evacuate its citizens stranded in the Gulf region due to the COVID-19 lockdown. At least 340 passengers, mostly Keralites, including pregnant women, infants and those with medical emergencies, will be among those to be brought back from Abu Dhabi and Dubai on board the two flights.

In addition to the air evacuation, three naval ships, left for the Maldives and the UAE on Tuesday to bring back Indian citizens. The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1783 on Thursday and the number of cases stood at 52,952, according to the Union Health Ministry.

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