Covid test reports delayed to extend stay in Punjab hotels, allege foreign returnees
The health department says those lodged in hotels can’t be forced to stay beyond one weekUpdated: Jun 29, 2020, 12:37 IST
Many foreign returnees lodged in Punjab hotels for quarantine soon after their landing in India have alleged fleecing at the hands of the hotels in collusion with the health department officials, claiming that their Covid-19 test reports are being delayed to extend their stay beyond the stipulated period.
The health department, however, said those lodged in hotels can’t be forced to stay beyond one week.
“Those coming from abroad are taken straightaway to hotels and we take their samples for the coronavirus testing after five days. The test reports in most cases come in two days. If a person is tested negative, they are allowed to go home immediately,” said state’s Covid-19 nodal officer Dr Rajesh Bhaskar.
As per the state government’s guidelines, those returning from abroad are required to stay in 14-day quarantine — first week in a hotel designated by the health department and second week at home if they test negative for the virus.
Inderpal Singh Parmar, a software engineer who landed in New Delhi after his return from the US 10 days ago and was lodged in a hotel in Kharar last Saturday, said it has been five days since a medical team took his samples but report has not arrived yet.
“I got no clarity about the test reports despite my repeated requests to the hotel authorities. I can’t speak to anyone other than the hotel staff. I am not allowed to go out of the room,” he said.
Puneet Verma, who came back from the US after attending a training course, said, “We were taken to a hotel in Kharar on June 20. It has been nine days since but there’s no information as to when we would be allowed to go home.”
“The hotel has already charged ₹27,500 from me for a week’s stay and is asking us to pay more for the stay of two days,” he added.
Of those who travelled in the San Francisco-Delhi flight last week, 10 were from Punjab. Of these, at least six were lodged in a Mohali hotel.
Hotels are charging an average ₹4,000 per day from those lodged for quarantine. The total bill for a week comes around ₹28,000 and but most people end up paying more by the time they check out due to delay in test reports, said another occupant under quarantine in a hotel in Mohali.
Parmar said the similar issue cropped up in a Mohali hotel where travellers were lodged. “They were given their test reports only after they created a ruckus last night. Their stay was also delayed by at least four days on the pretext of non-receipt of test reports,” he said.
Principal secretary (medical education) DK Tiwari said delay in Covid-19 testing is rare. “An average 9,000 tests are conducted daily by the three government medical colleges. We have given instructions that there should be no backlog and all test reports must be prepared the same day,” he said.