Members of the special emergency team set up by Kerala health minister KK Shailaja were faced with a unique dilemma on Friday after a girl who returned from Wuhan, China with fever refused to enter quarantine on religious grounds.
According to local media reports quoting health ministry officials, the girl belongs to one of the several Christian denominations that do not believe in germs and modern medicine, but see diseases as a punishment from God.
According to such religious groups, man has no role to play in the execution of such punishment and must refrain from trying to manipulate it.
Members of such religious groups shun medical science, hospitals, vaccinations and other such practices, and instead rely on community prayer to overcome any disease or disability.
The girl, who was flown in from Wuhan on Friday, was sitting next to another girl who got herself tested and became the first confirmed case of corona virus infection in India.
However, the girl belonging to the ultra-conservative religious group went straight to her home near Thrissur, ignoring the pleas of the health officials and doctors to get herself tested.
The emergency team tried to call her on the phone to ask her to return to Thrissur medical college for observation. However, neither the girl nor her family attended the calls.
In the end, a special team was sent to the girl’s house near Thrissur.
The officials managed to come back with the girl after spending 3 hours persuading the girl and the family to at least remain in quarantine, even if she did not accept any medicines.
A blood sample was also taken from the girl for testing.
The incident is believed to have been behind minister Shailaja’s appeal on Friday not to skip medical tests under any circumstance after coming back from corona-virus infected countries.
In a special message, she said that many students and workers have been found to be going straight to their homes, claiming that they don’t have any fever or infection.
The minister pointed out that corona virus remains in the human body for 2-14 days before it shows any symptoms and signs. The virus can be passed on from one person to another during this stage.
Those suspected of being exposed to the virus are being kept in quarantine for up to 28 days in Kerala.
The state government has set up isolation wards in several government medical colleges in the state.
Unlike last year’s Nipah virus incident, this time, the government has taken a conscious decision not to reveal the names of the people suspected of having contracted the virus.
The government has also asked citizens not to circulate fake news or rumors about the disease on social media, and warned that strict action will be taken against those indulging in rumor mongering.
Meanwhile, an Air India Jumbo Boeing 747 landed in Delhi today morning with 324 Indian nationals from Wuhan in China.
Six Indians were not allowed to board the plane by Chinese authorities after thermal scans revealed that they had high fever.
All 324 members of the flight are at a quarantine facility at an ITBP campus nearby. Another Air India flight will leave from Delhi to Wuhan at 12:50 pm today.