Several cases of foreign tourists starving and sleeping rough have come up in the last two days in Kerala as hotels and restaurants turn away anyone with white skin over fears of Coronavirus.
The most striking is the case of Selena, from France, and Mauro, from Italy.
The couple, who had been roaming around in India for several days, reached Kannur in Kerala on 11 March. However, they could not find any restaurant or hotel willing to serve them for three days, and finally reached the nearby town of Payyanur.
They were found by state police crying on the road and were taken to Payyanur Taluk Hospital for Coronavirus testing by the police.
When the doctor found out that they hadn’t eaten for nearly three days, hospital authorities arranged for food.
They are currently in Telicherry Government Hospital.
Another tourist who was found breaking down on the streets was Maria from Argentina.
She was picked up last night by the police when she broke down after failing to find any hotel or restaurant that would serve her.
She had reached Trivandrum by flight yesterday, but her hotel refused to honor her booking. She tried to find a lodge in Thampanoor area, but was rejected by all the establishments there.
She told the police that when she approached passers by for help, no one was willing to even speak with her.
She was picked up by Pink Police near the University Library near Palayam and was transported in an ambulance to Government Hospital in Trivandum (see image).
Police said she would be given an accommodation after testing negative for COVID-19. It is likely that she would be kept in the hospital until the results are available.
Police were also called to Church of Christ in Vagamon, a popular tourist spot, after passers by noticed a tourist sleeping on one of the tombstones. However, the tourist managed to get a bus out of the locality by the time the police arrived at 6:30 AM.
Another couple, David and Leah from Spain, were in for a surprise when they climbed on to a state transport bus. As soon as the couple got on the bus, the other passengers created a furore.
The couple were handed over to the police, who passed them on to state health authorities.
The couple were advised to remain in home quarantine.
However, given the difficulties in finding any hotel or lodge that would accommodate them, they agreed to the authorities’ suggestion that they should stay in the Pala General Hospital.
The level of concern about Coronavirus has reached panic levels among many in Kerala after a recent incident involving a tourist from the UK.
An incident in which a British tourist — later confirmed with COVID 19 — attended a mass festival in Thrissur and danced with the locals has led to panic in the area. Health authorities have asked everyone who danced with the tourist and clicked selfies with him to come forward.
Hotels visited by the tourist have been shut down and staff have been put under observation.
According to state authorities, the estimated number of foreign tourists in Kerala at present is above 5,000.
Last week, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had to specifically appeal to the people not to treat foreigners will suspicion and to remember to be good hosts.
“We are hearing several cases of harassment and non-cooperation. Awareness does not mean you should shout ‘Corona, Corona’ whenever you see a foreigner,” he said last week in light of police reports about the difficulties faced by foreign tourists.
“Remember that we depend on these tourists.”