With even Charles, the Prince of Wales, testing positive for COVID-19, the West Bengal government has readied 31 hotels, including some star categories, for the elite that is reluctant to be isolated in drab government-run quarantine centres.
The government has taken the step as many, particularly the affluent, were found to had hidden the history of their travel to coronavirus-affected countries, just to avoid being locked-up in government facilities, said a health department official.
He, however, did not reveal the number of people already shifted to these “VIP isolation facilities”. Some foreign nationals, who got stuck in the city after coming from high-risk areas, are also housed in these hotels earmarked across Kolkata.
According to Atikram Gupta, the assistant secretary general of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), 645 rooms in 31 hotels have been set aside for the “quarantined guests.”
These boarders, however, have to foot their own bills as per the tariff fixed by the government. For a stay in three-star category hotel, the all-inclusive daily expense will be ₹7,000 while for the lower-range hotels the prices could be in the range of ₹2,000 per day.
Gupta told The Federal that for the check-in, the state health and family welfare department had to recommend the guests.
The department also set certain guidelines for the hotels, with a strict instruction that under no circumstance these “boarders” be allowed to come out of their room for 14-day mandatory quarantine period, without prior permission of a doctor, Gupta said. Similarly, no one will be allowed into their rooms, other than room service. They will be under CCTV watch.
The entire floor on which these isolated rooms are located should be segregated and that only those who have been “trained” by the department to handle these “special cases” should be deployed to attend to the needs of these guests after taking necessary safety precautions, as per the department’s guidelines.
The entire floor requires to be disinfected every day and the bed covers and other items used by the “isolated boarders” should be cleaned separately, according to the guidelines.
If need be, the HRAEI, assured the government that they as responsible corporate citizens are ready to provide more such isolated rooms.
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Complaints of poor condition of quarantine facilities in the district though surfaced, there has been no such report so far from centres in Kolkata. In fact local media carried reports of some quarantined people appreciating the facilities.
In the city, the government is lucky to be able to set up its first quarantine centre at the about-to-be inaugurated Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI)’s brand new 500-bed hospital in Rajarhat.
The second quarantine facility, with 200 beds, too is housed at a yet-to-be-opened swanky campus of the NBCC Ltd.
All asymptomatic passengers arriving at the city from ten high-risk countries including China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are kept in these government-run quarantine centres. Only those displaying symptoms of infection are sent to an isolation ward in hospitals