Ministers exempt from quarantine: Karnataka on Sadananda Gowda row
Bengaluru: The Karnataka government stepped in on Monday afternoon to extricate Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda who found himself mired in a quarantine controversy after flying to Bengaluru from Delhi and skipping the mandatory one-week quarantine specified by the state government.
After both he and his aides tied themselves up in knots explaining why the quarantine did not apply to him, the state government issued an addendum to its guidelines issued on May 22 that said Union and state ministers and officers were exempt from the “requirements”. Interestingly, the addendum was dated May 23,although it was shared by the state at around 7.40pm on Monday.
Gowda , the Union minister for chemicals and fertilisers flew from Delhi to Bengaluru, but skipped the mandatory one week of institutional quarantine, followed by another week of home isolation, mandated by the Karnataka government for air passengers from high-rsk states amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
After landing at the airport on a commercial flight, Gowda left by a private car even as other passengers were sent to a week of institutional quarantine the Karnataka government has mandated for passengers from states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
Anyone tested within the previous 48 hours and found negative for Covid-19 is exempted from institutional quarantine, but is required to stay in home quarantine.
An aide to the minister claimed that Gowda had come with a negative Covid-19 test report provided by an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-approved lab. The minister himself did not refer to either the test or the state government guideline (issued later, but dated Saturday) and simply told reporters that being a minister, he was exempt from the quarantine rules and accused a section of the media of unnecessarily blowing up the issue.
“I am also looking after pharma. It is my duty to ensure that there is no shortage of medicine supply in the country. If I don’t do that, then the number of cases will double,” he said. “If doctors are quarantined, if people who supply medicines are quarantined, how will we beat the virus.”
The Karnataka Congress hit out at the Union minister for skipping the quarantine “…(Sadananda Gowda) flouts all Covid norms, lands from Delhi and walks (out) without quarantine, Karnataka government rules have no exemption for anyone! How come he comes up with how own rules? Is he not putting all his primary contacts under health risk? Why no action?” it said in a statement.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson S Prakash said the minister had already clarified his stand on the issue.
The addendum to the guidelines issued by the state said: “The ministers of union government or state governments or officers on their official duty who are travelling across states will be exempted from the requirements of quarantine as has been done for health professionals and others...”
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