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Coronavirus: Odisha man forced to quarantine in car due to COVID-19 stigma despite testing -ve

The social stigma attached to coronavirus has forced a 30-year-old youth of Dolaba village under Sanakhemundi block to remain in quarantine inside his car.

The youth, Madhaba Patra, has been subjected to this cruel fate despite having already spent 14 days in quarantine in Berhampur and testing negative for Covid-19. 

Patra, a videographer, went to Bihar for some software on May 3 and returned after three days.

Before reaching Odisha, he registered his name in the returnee list and also informed Ganjam Collector about his return.

Since he had no symptoms of Coronavirus, Patra was allowed by the administration to stay in home quarantine in Berhampur as per norms.

After completing the 14-day quarantine period, he received his clearance papers from the authorities concerned and left for Dolaba in his car just before heavy rains were predicted due to the approaching cyclone Amphan.

A few minutes after his arrival, villagers including the husband of local anganwadi worker reached his home and asked him to stay in quarantine.

Though Patra showed them his clearance certificate and negative test reports, the villagers refused to listen.

Irritated by their ignorance, the youth reached the local police station with his papers.

The police officials termed the act of villagers as a misunderstanding and allowed Patra to stay in his home.

The next day, Patra’s father had gone to the village market where the anganwadi worker’s husband and some of his friends entered into a heated argument with him.

On being informed, Patra reached the spot and criticised them for their ignorance.

Taking offense to Patra’s behaviour, they took up the matter with Dolaba sarpanch who asked the youth to stay in the nearby Kalingi quarantine centre.

As no one came out in his support, Patra was forced to accept the diktat. He, however, said he would stay in his car on the premises of the quarantine centre. The youth has been staying inside his car since May 21.

Narrating his ordeal, Patra said, “I informed the matter to the local authorities but to no avail. Since there is a risk of contracting the infection in institutional quarantine where many migrant workers are housed, I decided to stay in may car. I hope the administration intervenes and saves me from this predicament.”

Patra spends his entire time in his car. He eats and sleeps inside the vehicle and only comes out to use the toilet of the quarantine centre.

Despite repeated attempts, no official was available for comment. However, reliable sources said the BDO has directed for Patra’s release after he completes one week of Quarantine as per the new Guideline.

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