Supplied  Picture: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation/Handout
Supplied Picture: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation/Handout

City stamps people exposed to the virus

The heavy, indelible ink lasts for 14 days on the hands of those exposed to the coronavirus.

People suspected of coming into contact with COVID-19 in India are being tracked by their mobile phones, too.

In fact, it is the only country in the world that has made downloading the COVID app mandatory. So far, it has 40 million users.

 

 

But in the western state of Maharashtra and southern Karnataka, less hi-tech methods are also being used.

"Proud to protect Mumbaikars. Home quarantined,'' the stamp reads.

The ink lasts for a fortnight.
The ink lasts for a fortnight.

 

Health Minister Rajesh Tope admits it's designed to apply "social pressure" to those that wear the mark.

"The person should not be roaming around. If he violates that, someone who spots him will tell him to go home,'' he said.

"We are using ink that will last for at least 14 days."

The stamp has a date that notes when the quarantine started.

 

A stamp for a 14-day home quarantine is seen on the hand of Associated Press photographer Rafiq Maqbool in Mumbai, India. Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP
A stamp for a 14-day home quarantine is seen on the hand of Associated Press photographer Rafiq Maqbool in Mumbai, India. Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP

"When I first heard of the stamping in Mumbai, I thought it was fake news," Supreme Court lawyer NS Nappinai told The Times of India.

"I understand the concern but where does one draw the line? Should fundamental rights be suspended in an emergency like this?"

The problem Indian authorities encountered was identical to the issue Australia faced as thousands of travellers returned home.

"We found people who were stamped and were travelling. They had signed a self-declaration that they will not travel because they could be carriers of coronavirus," said Archana Valzade, undersecretary in Maharashtra's health department.

"It is their duty as well to stop the infection. Stamping is essential and very useful to reduce the spread," she said.

 

India is emerging from a strict lockdown after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for physical distancing and people to "forget what going out means".

This week, he announced a $412 billion AU coronavirus package for India's 1.3 billion people.

To put that into context, Australia's $200 billion coronavirus package covers just 25 million Australians.

The coastal state of Maharashtra is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in India.

About a third of India's 71,865 confirmed virus cases, and nearly 40 per cent of its 2,415 deaths are in Maharashtra, but the true number of cases is believed to be much higher.

 

Disinfectant is sprayed on beds at a special temporary hospital facility for COVID-19 patients in Mumbai, India in early April. Picture: Rajanish Kakade/AP
Disinfectant is sprayed on beds at a special temporary hospital facility for COVID-19 patients in Mumbai, India in early April. Picture: Rajanish Kakade/AP

The wealthy have barred maids, security guards and other household staff - many of whom live in the slums - from coming to work fearing they are carrying the virus.

The region is also at the centre of India's hopes for recovery as the lockdown restrictions are eased.

Special trains carrying migrant workers who fled India's big cities, including Mumbai, for their village homes during the lockdown have now resumed to transport workers back to Mumbai.

 

Authorities know that some of the passengers carried the coronavirus with them because infections spiked in their home states after they arrived.

It's a lockdown that hundreds of Australians are emerging from today after a Qantas Boeing 787 brought 207 Australians to Canberra on Friday.

It's one of four flights facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a way to repatriate people from India.

The passengers were screened for COVID-19 symptoms before departing New Delhi and will be screened again on arrival before entering quarantine to await the results.


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