2 drivers, PSO of Arunachal SP return after dropping him in Delhi; but instead of mandatory quarantine, ‘higher-ups’ let them proceed to Ziro, claims Itanagar quarantine centre coordinator in video
Tinsukia: A startling video made by the coordinator of the quarantine centre for Itanagar zone has come to the fore in Arunachal Pradesh. In the video, shot near Mithun gate, the entrance of Itanagar town, Dr Gomi Basar is heard saying that he has received orders from the higher authorities to allow three persons to travel to Ziro without keeping them in mandatory quarantine, as per norms.
"I just wanted to make it clear as the orders have come from higher-ups, in case of any eventuality, I should not be taken as responsible. So, I am making this video as evidence," said Basar.
The 3 persons -- two drivers and a PSO of the superintendent of police (SP) of Lower Subansiri district -- entered the state through Hollongi check gate in Papum Pare district on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday. They were travelling back after dropping their boss in Delhi. They had travelled through several states including Delhi, which has the second-highest number of positive COVID-19 cases, making quarantine mandatory for them.
Basar, the coordinator of the quarantine centre, had picked the trio and was moving to the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) to quarantine them and collect their swab samples. However, he had to leave them 14 km short of TRIHMS, following constant pressure and verbal orders over the phone. This is when he decided to make the video as evidence.
Introducing himself as the coordinator of the quarantine centre, Basar said that actually they were supposed to be in quarantine but right now I am getting orders from higher authorities to leave them so that they can go to Ziro, where the rest of the things will be taken care of.
Talking to EastMojo, Dr Basar said that he had moved to the location immediately after receiving information about three persons travelling from red zone states entering Arunachal Pradesh and reaching Itanagar. We tracked them and picked them up from the police guest house and forest colony near the police headquarters.
"We were taking them to TRIHMS, which is around 20 km, for collection of their samples and to keep them in institutional quarantine till the results are out in accordance with the standard operating procedure (SOP) in such cases. As I was discharging my duty I started receiving calls from the district medical office (DMO) to release them," said Basar.
"He told that message was from higher-ups, though I didn't get a call directly from any other superior officers," Basar said, adding, "At this point, the DMO told me straight away that these were government orders which I have to obey or else I may lose my job. I requested them to issue written orders but I was told it will take time. I decided to stop the vehicle at a secluded place near Mithun gate to make the video as evidence, after which an ambulance came and took them away."
As per norms, any person travelling from red zone areas, irrespective of whether he is symptomatic or asymptomatic, is required to be taken to flu clinic where his swab samples are collected and the person is kept in institutional quarantine till the time results come. If the result is negative, the person is released and sent to home quarantine. If he is positive, he is put in isolation ward and his treatment starts, as per the protocol.
"One of the three persons had gone to police guest house where so many persons were present," said Basar, also a member of state task force. Responding to a question, Basar said that the DMO had called and pressured him to let the people go. "However, I could feel that the DMO was under tremendous pressure coming right from the top," added Basar.
The three persons have been identified as PSO Ram Vinod Shah, driver Bisal Kojur and Ajoy Toppo. They had driven Lower Subansiri SP Hemant Tiwari to Delhi as he had to attend a family medical emergency. The order for their travel was issued from the office of the Arunachal Pradesh director-general of police.
They had left Itanagar on April 14 and started the return journey on April 17 after dropping Tiwari in Delhi.
Delhi has recorded the second-highest number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) positive cases in the country so far. On Saturday alone, Delhi recorded 186 new cases of COVID-19.
Quoting Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, several news channels reported that all the new cases in Delhi were asymptomatic, a reason to worry.
Talking to EastMojo, chief secretary of Arunachal Pradesh Naresh Kumar said that he has not seen the video. "The SOP, as far as quarantine of persons entering Arunachal Pradesh on the lifting of lockdown, will be as follows. We have categorised persons entering the state into two categories -- symptomatic and asymptomatic," he said.
"Symptomatic ones will be investigated medically and RT PCR test will be done. Pending result of the test will be in institutional quarantine and further action will depend upon the outcome of the test,” Kumar said, adding, "In case of an asymptomatic person entering the state after the lockdown period is over, they are sent to institutional quarantine for 14 days after which rapid antibody test will be done depending upon the results further protocol is followed."
"However, if anyone is entering the state during the lockdown on emergency medical reasons or valid emergency reasons, depending upon the medical assessment, further action is taken including home or institutional quarantine,” Kumar added.
"As per the SOP, which we have released yesterday, for any person entering Arunachal will be screened at our entry gate. If the person is asymptomatic, the person needs to be sent to quarantine facility of the respective district," health secretary of Arunachal Pradesh P Parthiban said. He added that the decision needs to be taken by the entry gate of the district administration.