Claims & Counterclaims: Food and safety concerns at quarantine centre

Morung Express News
Kohima | May 24

Following claims that poor quality of food and lunch was provided only at around 3:40 pm on May 23 for those in the quarantine centre at Meriema, some attendants in the quarantine centre ‘verified and admitted’ that the claims were true.

When this correspondent went to ascertain the facts, an in-charge of the quarantine centre refused to speak saying that he is “very busy” and that he is not authorised to speak to the media.

However, after ascertaining facts, the ‘claims and counterclaims’ on social media on the quality of foods, appears to be turned out to be ‘right’ in their own ways. 

It was found that adequate food had not been provided - some received enough some but there was shortage of curry for 80 people depriving them of a proper meal.

While certain people have claimed that there was inadequate curry and they were given only rice, small amount of chutney, a slice of cucumber, two pieces of biscuit and juice; another person who was admitted in the quarantine centre 5 days ago, said those at the centre were provided with ‘adequate and good quality food.’ 

In this regard, nurses and attendants working at the centre admitted that there was delay in the distribution of food and inadequate supply of food on May 23. It was a first time that there was shortage of curry for the people, they claimed and attributed the same to miscalculation on the part of the packaging party.

On the delay in serving of food, nurses at the centre said, “Though we have been working non-stop, currently, there are more than 450 people, and we have less workforce in distribution. By the time, we reached the last block, it got quiet late.”

 “Whenever the food arrives, we don’t open to see the contents of food inside and immediately start distributing it,” informed a nurse. 

“Though it was not our fault, we apologised to the people for the late lunch and inadequate food as we feel for them. They have come from a long journey and they need good food,” said another nurse, adding that this is the first time it happened during their duty roster.

In the midst of interacting with the nurses this morning, some parents came with home cooked food and other eatables, requesting the nurses to deliver it to their wards with the room numbers written on the packages.

While the nurses did not have the heart to directly refuse them, they were seen trying to convince the parents that things from outside are strictly prohibited. The parents were heard saying, “We want them to have proper food; they are almost fasting since their return from Chennai.”


Nurses worry over lack of facilities 
While nurses and medical attendants have been deputed at the quarantine centres on rotation basis of 7 days with two groups each at one time, they are now worried over the lack of any quarantine facilities for themselves.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a nurse said, “Our seven days duty period is over. We are to go home on Monday, but here, we are worried about going back home to our families with children and older parents.”

The nurses at the quarantine centre were worried since they have been in constant close proximity with the returnees. “Though we are taking precautions, we never know who would be carrying the virus because there are asymptomatic carriers,” stated a worried nurse.

“We have shared our concerns to our officers’ in-charge, but no directive or instructions have come till today,” said another nurse. 
The nurses are working under extreme pressure in the quarantine centres without rest and proper sleep. In addition to their other duties, they also they have to distribute food, frequently climbing stairs and going from room to room. 

“It’s so tiring, we have to carry heavy packages of food climbing the stairs and going from one block to another,” a nurse shared.
Another nurse stated she even thought of leaving her job on several occasions since this pandemic started. “But then, how could I leave when my service is required? God will not forgive me.” 

The realisation that their job is not only to serve during good times made her retract her decision. However, she added that if the nurses are being provided with proper equipments and facilities “we are ready to perform anytime and anywhere.”

As shared by the nurses, the consensus and concern is that a quarantine facility must be arranged for those working in the quarantine centres as soon their duty gets over. For now, their duty roster is for seven days at the centre followed by seven days rest at home. However, their main worry is that it would be impossible for them to isolate themselves from their families as most of them do not have extra toilets or other facilities for self-isolation.