Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Public Health Minister on Thursday unearthed a modus operandi of some travellers emanating from coronavirus affected countries to avoid 100% quarantine on arrival at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur airports.

They were able to achieve this by plotting their itinerary in such a way that they returned via a non-affected country and thereby circumvented the stringent rules.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who visited the Mumbai International Airport to supervise the screening facility there, told FPJ, ''A few people, who visited a country considered to be high-risk, escaped quarantine for coronavirus as they returned via another country.

It is mandatory for travellers coming from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran and Italy to be quarantined. Those escaping the quarantine is a matter of serious concern, as it may lead to local transmission.''

Tope said such cases had surfaced in Pune where the district administration has now decided to resort to 100% quarantine of all passengers arriving from overseas.

Tope said he took up the issue with the Immigration Department at the Mumbai and Nagpur airports as well.

''It has been decided that the Immigration Department staff will check the passports of travellers arriving from the non-affected countries for their travel history in the previous fortnight.

This will enable us to quarantine all those arriving at the airport. It will be difficult for travellers to escape quarantine, now,'' he noted.

Tope said the devious ploy was detected after a group of 40 tourists returned from Dubai, which was earlier not in the ‘negative’ list of countries having coronavirus outbreak.

''The travellers fell ill after a few days and later they were declared positive. In some cases it was noticed that those, who had escaped quarantine at the airport, were detected with coronavirus symptoms.

Therefore, the travel history of 15 days must be ascertained by checking the passports of travellers returning to India,'' he averred.

Tope further said the department of public health and civic bodies had accordingly demanded suspension of all international flights for 10 days. As far as lockdown in Mumbai is concerned, Tope gave a stern warning to Mumbaikars.

Tope said that if the citizens don't comply with advisories issued by the state government to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak, a decision to lock down the city would be inevitable.

Meanwhile, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal has said the state government will provide two months of rice and wheat for May and June in advance through 52,000 fair price shops across Maharashtra.

There are 1.25 crore ration card holders but the actual beneficiaries will be 6.50 crore. ''This is to avoid crowding at the fair price shops and inconvenience due to coronavirus spread,'' Bhujbal said.

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