Floods, Covid-19, and Now 100 Patients Escape a Quarantine Centre. Pray For Assam


Floods, Covid-19, and Now 100 Patients Escape a Quarantine Centre. Pray For Assam

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The Northeastern state of Assam is going through a very difficult period. Raging floods have displaced tens of thousands of people and inundated huge tracts of land, an inferno at a gas plant has been burning despite efforts to extinguish it for weeks, and the number of coronavirus cases within the state continues to climb. With the state’s resources stretched so thin, approximately 100 patients at a coronavirus quarantine centre in the Kamrup district escaped the facility to stage a protest over their treatment.

The situation unfolded on Thursday, July 16, when the 100 or so patients escaped the Covid care centre in Changsari, within Kamrup district. After leaving the facility, the group made its way to the nearby National Highway 31, where they blocked traffic and staged a protest. According to their claims, they were not being provided with food and water at the quarantine centre. They also alleged that authorities at the quarantine centre were overcrowding the facility by stuffing 10 to 12 patients in a single room.

With the protestors blocking traffic on a main road, police arrived on the scene with Kamrup Deputy Commissioner Kailash Kartik. Kartik heard out the grievances of the protestors and assurances that their concerns would be addressed. After a dialogue between the police and the protestors, the group agreed to return to the quarantine centre in Changsari.

Addressing the issue at a press conference, Assam’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We have brought them to the facility so that they can be cured and do not infect others. If they are not happy there, they can sign the undertaking and go under home quarantine.” Sarma claimed that any problems faced by the protestors was due to health workers in the state being overburdened.

This is not the first time people have escaped from quarantine centres in Assam, or even in India, due to alleged neglect. Unfortunately, it’s also unlikely to be the last.