Mumbai: To render those who are in 100% ‘home quarantine’ easily identifiable, the Maharashtra government has decided to stamp the left hand of all such persons.
This will serve as a general caution for people when the ‘quarantined’ mingle with others; it will also prevent them from melting in the crowd.
The decision, taken at a meeting of top officials chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has been described as a precautionary measure in view of the recent spike in the coronavirus cases.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope explained that the stamp on the left hand will be on the lines of the indelible ink applied to a voter’s finger during elections; it will indicate "that a person/patient is under compulsory home quarantine" till March 31.
"This will help other people identify them if they break home quarantine and mix with the public during their home-isolation period," Tope said.Of course, the ‘stamp’ – which detractors say is almost akin to tagging of a criminal – would raise ethical questions about public propriety.
Tope seemed to sense the ethical issues involved when he told the meeting: Those who are suspected to have been exposed to the virus, and those who have tested positive, are not criminals. He urged citizens to lend them mental and moral support in addition to medicines.
''The district administration has been directed not to be excessive in implementation of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which vests in them wide powers to check the outbreak. They should discharge their powers from a humanitarian point of view,'' the minister said.
As per protocol, people arriving from coronavirus- affected regions are being put under home quarantine as a precautionary measure, while their samples are sent for tests.