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Clipping The Wings Of The Flying Class, The Karnataka Way

The Karnataka government has ordered a ‘selfie’ moment. Literally!

And it is not once or twice in a fortnight, as is the norm for all those kept under home quarantine for COVID-19.

Neither is it once a day but every single hour until the second test for the deadly infection turns negative.

The purpose of this strange order is that those under home quarantine remain at home and do not go gallivanting all over town, eating in restaurants or shopping, as some have treated it as a holiday.

In the last fortnight since the number of cases of COVID-19 testing positive increased, health department officials have been fretting over the attitude of those who have been ordered to be in home quarantine.

The home quarantine enforcement squad has had a tough time tracking the international traveller who has returned home. The selfie moment comes in the wake of serious violation of norms.

Karnataka’s COVID-19 minister Dr K Sudhakar has said that every home quarantined person should download the App from Google Playstore, take selfies every hour and send it to the government. Alternatively, the enforcement squad will also run its regular visits and checks to send photographs.

The App, in short, provides real time location to those manning the movement of the home quarantined at the COVID-19 War Room, managed by experienced no-nonsense civil servants.

Dr Sudhakar said: “If the home quarantined person fails to send selfie every one hour (except sleeping time from 10 pm to 7 am) then the government team will reach such defaulters and they are liable to be shifted to government-created mass quarantine. Every selfie sent by home quarantined person is seen by Government Photo Verification Team. So, if wrong photos are sent then also defaulters will be shifted to Mass Quarantine,’’ a statement from Dr Sudhakar said.

But information technology is described by a senior official as only a “back up” to the enforcement squad.

“Our strategy is whatever has to be done with the help of our staff, we shall continue to go on without relying on information technology,” Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, told reporters at the daily briefing.

On Sunday, about 22 persons were picked up by the squad and shifted to the government quarantine, taking the total number to 142. In effect, it means that the government is at the end of its tether in dealing with the educated, flying class whose social behaviour could harm society.

This attitude made the government issue a new order on Friday last saying that all primary contacts of those who have tested positive will be put up at the government quarantine facility which could be a hotel or a hospital. Those who will be at such a facility will be those who suffer from co-morbidities like diabetes, high BP and heart ailments etc.

The second not so high-risk category will be pushed into safety at the hotels already booked by the government. In short, the freedom of the flying class will be curbed.

Karnataka has reported three deaths, two of whom have returned from Saudi Arabia, apart from the other 82 who have tested positive. Eight persons have been discharged after completing their quarantine of 14 days. Currently one person is on a ventilator.

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