The Pinarayi Vijayan government on Wednesday clarified that Kerala will support those migrants who cannot afford to pay for the quarantine facility after opposition and expat organisations protested the move of levying fees for quarantine.
The issue came up after the state government on Tuesday made it clear that those coming from abroad would henceforth have to pay for seven day government quarantine facilities.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan said that the centre had not asked states to mandatorily take money from repatriated expatriates. “Some from the state government have claimed that paid institutional quarantine was adopted in Kerala as per the Centre’s instruction. But the centre has not asked states to compulsorily take money from repatriated expatriates. It only said that there can be paid quarantine. Never did the central government ask states to take money from the poor,” V Muraleedharan said in Delhi.
In response, Vijayan said, “Those in responsible posts have been making wrong statements and are still continuing to do so. They should at least read the circulars issued by the Centre and the undertakings that have to be signed by the expatriates before returning,” Vijayan said.
“Paid quarantine is for those who come from abroad. Lakhs of people want to come to Kerala. The state may not be able to handle all of them,”Vijayan had said.
However, Vijayan clarified, “The poor would not face any trouble. The state government would ensure their protection. It seems the direction to levy the quarantine expenses from those who come from abroad has created misunderstanding. The government stand is to charge the quarantine fee from those who can afford it,” Vijayan said.
The Centre’s guidelines on international arrivals state that before boarding, all travellers should give an undertaking to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14-days, seven days paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by seven days isolation at home.
Vijayan dismissed Muraleedharan’s charge of mismanagement of the COVID-19 in Kerala and said home quarantine was a success in Kerala and the people of the state know it.
“The people of the state very well know that whether our state’s home quarantine mechanism is a a success or not. When we declared that expatriates need to be under institutional quarantine for seven days and rest of the seven days at home quarantine, the centre had a different opinion. Now they have agreed to our policy,” Vijayan said.
Kerala’s success in handing the COVID-19 spread has been appreciated by international media as well. State Health Minister Shailaja Teacher has been interviewed by The Guardian, BBC and The Economist has also praised the Kerala model for its success. The state has reported 1,004 cases of infections and seven deaths till now.