The ill-equipped quarantine facilities of Bardiya district are a health hazard. As more people enter the district from Kathmandu and elsewhere, these facilities have been crowded and the risk of infection has increased.
The group isolation center established at Amshuvarma Secondary School at Jayanagar in Barbardiya Municipality is one such facility. Sushil Shrestha, who has been housed there by the municipality, says: “We are seven people in a room. There is one common bathroom, and one common bucket to carry water. It is a quarantine facility only in name. We are at high risk here.”
Shrestha complains of not getting anything to eat. The room has been prepared by removing the classroom’s desks and benches and with the placement of one thin mat on the floor. “How can we stay here for 14 days?” asks Shrestha. Contacting APEX over phone, he asked to be rescued from the quarantine and be allowed to go home.
The government quarantine guidelines state that each person should be given a separate room with attached bath, and if that is not possible, at most three persons can be accommodated in a room. A bathroom cannot be shared by more than six persons. Beds should be at least 3.5 feet apart. The facilities should provide morning and evening meals and two snacks a day. But most quarantine centers lack these facilities.
Ninety-nine quarantine centers with 3,516 beds have been set up in Gulariya, Madhuban, Rajapur, Thakurbaba, Barbardiya, and Bansgadhi municipalities and Gerua and Badhaiyatal rural municipalities of the district. Currently, 2,198 people are housed in these facilities.
“The facilities in seven municipalities are in good condition. Only one or two quarantine centers in Barbardiya are in a poor state,” claims Chief District Officer Prem Lal Lamichhane. He adds that Barbardiya has more people coming from elsewhere, so the quarantine centers there may be more crowded.
Stigmatizing, unhygienic, and dusty
People complain about lack of drinking water, sanitizers, and unhygienic conditions in quarantine centers
Pradeep Chandra Rai, Bhojpur
Namuna Ghimire from Charambi of Arun Rural Municipality returned to Bhojpur district from Kathmandu in a bus arranged by the municipality. She, along with her fellow travelers, have been kept at a quarantine facility established at a local school. She is unhappy.
Whoever sees her starts saying, “Oh, she has brought corona.” Even those who are quarantined with her show a similar attitude. “Although my house is not far, I am not allowed to go there. And nobody comes to see me due to the lockdown,” she says.
One Pratikshya Tamang, who is quarantined along with her baby, says villagers think she has imported corona into the village. “It hurts to hear such callous remarks,” she shares.
People complain about lack of drinking water, sanitizers, and unhygienic conditions in quarantine centers. They are scared of developing other health problems. Sangita Shrestha, who is in the same facility, says: “My daughter has a skin allergy. She may also have flu. But there is no way to get her to a doctor. And there is no nutritious food here. I am worried about our health.”
A total of 132 people coming from Kathmandu and Sunsari have been placed in the quarantine centers of Arun Rural Municipality, while 15 are kept in Temke Maiyung and seven in Bhojpur Municipality.
Dipendra Alemagar of Bhojpur Municipality complains of being put up in a dusty room. “We have been given a thin mattress and a bed-sheet. It is difficult to sleep.”