People who have been placed under quarantine at different makeshift centres complained of poor and unhygienic facilities in Kashmir.
Around 1,800 people who have been put up in various centres complained of poor facilities and unhygienic conditions. Even as the district administration has roped in a few hotels to be used as quarantine facilities in some instances, the overall picture of the quarantine facilities is dreary.
On March 28, Mehmood* (name changed) received a call from the local administration wherein he was asked to go to the local school-turned-quarantine-centre. “But after reaching the facility, I found myself to be more vulnerable than before. There are six people in one room. The bedding has been used before. Four people in this room are from Tablighi jamaat which I have no idea about. Is it possible they have come in contact with the first COVID-19 victim,” he said. Mehmood is pursuing Ph.D. at Jamia Millia and reached the Valley on March 20. There are around 30 people at this centre and 28 of them have to use the same bathroom, he said. “There are around 8-10 people put in a single room which puts everyone of them at risk.”
A few metres away, at another centre, Lyceum International School, a person alleged that they have not been provided with handwash liquid soaps and sanitisers and were forced to use the dirty washroom. “They have not sterilised the bathroom. We all use the same towel and bathroom which puts all of us at risk as the disease is highly contagious. We would have been better at home. Besides, multiple people share the same room,” he said.
Some passengers who are stranded and were disallowed to enter Kashmir also complained of poor facilities. A group of such passengers said that they were on their way from Delhi to Srinagar when the authorities stopped them at Jammu. They lamented that even after getting through the screening at the Lakhanpur checkpoint, considered as a gateway to Kashmir, they were not allowed to move towards Kashmir. Instead, they said, the authorities asked them to remain in quarantine for the next 14 days in a shabby university campus which lacks even basic sanitation. “The floor is very dusty and bathrooms have not been sanitised either,” a stranded passenger said. He said that they wanted authorities to allow them to reach their respective districts.
He, along with his friends, reached Jammu on March 23. He claimed that they were tested after waiting for nearly 10 hours. “We waited without having any food. And even after the screening, we were taken to the isolation facility,” he added.
The passengers said that as the government had cancelled operation of all the domestic flights, they hired taxis from Delhi to reach Srinagar and passed all the checkpoints before getting stopped at Jammu. The quarantine facilities were not even ready when they had blocked everything, said a passenger.
His account of the condition of the quarantine facility was corroborated by two other people at the facility, along with photographs.
The travelers said they found mattresses placed on dirty floors, 10-15 people jammed in one room, and stinky bathrooms. “Mixing people in such a manner could spread the infection. We want clean rooms and sanitised washrooms or send us to our home districts,” another passenger demanded.
Also read: How ICMR’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy Compromised India’s Fight Against Pandemic