Maitri Porecha  New Delhi | Updated on February 04, 2020  Published on February 04, 2020

At Manesar camp, students complain of shortage of water, unhygienic conditions

Lack of toilets and acute water shortage in the quarantine facility for ‘novel coronavirus (nCov)’ at Manesar, Haryana, have left in the lurch over 350 male students who arrived from China over the last two days. The distressed students — close to 300 of them are studying in Wuhan and up to 50 are from Yinchang, a city which is about six hours’ drive from Wuhan — are housed in dormitory-style barracks by the Army, and have been quarantined for the next two weeks.

A senior Health Ministry official said: “We have contacted personnel of the Armed Forces Medical Services who are in-charge of the administration and upkeep of the camp to apprise them of the issue. It will likely be resolved.”

Stray dogs on the campus pose a public health threat

Jelin Prabhakar (22), a final year student of Medicine in Yinchang, arrived at the facility on Sunday. Prabhakar said he and a set of students had completed a high-risk journey, travelling from Yinchang to Wuhan by road and then flying to India. “We have travelled a long distance with students from Wuhan. I have not bathed for 36 hours. There is little water for flushing and limited hot water supplies for bathing. There are only 10 toilets for close to 350 of us and most are in unhygienic conditions,” Prabhakar told BusinessLine.Makeshift toilets

Advisories released by the Health Ministry have repeatedly stressed on the importance of personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Currently, the virus has no definitive cure and symptomatic management is the only option. India has officially confirmed three positive cases, all from Kerala. Up to 14,557 have been confirmed positive for the virus globally and 305 deaths have occurred.

Suspect cases isolated

On Monday, six students displaying symptoms of coronavirus were moved out of the Manesar facility in ambulances and kept in isolation. This has worried the other students. “Those suspect cases were taken out in front of us. We should ideally be separated from Wuhan students,” Prabhakar said.

Hot water was available at the facility only from 6.30 am to 7.30 am and students had to queue up to get just a bucket full. “The primary requirement to prevent and manage the virus is to have access to hot water. Because of lack of closed enclosures to bathe, at times students have to bathe outside in the cold. At night, the temperature dips below 10 degrees C, and we have been feeling very cold in the barracks,” said Prabhakar.

Water heating facility where hot water is available only from 6:30 am to 7:30 am

Students mostly from Kerala shot videos and photos of the facilities at the camp and forwarded them to the office of Elmaram Kareem, an MP from Kerala. Kareem, on Monday, sought urgent intervention by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to make sure that the quarantined students are provided with basic facilities till they are stationed in Manesar.

Kareem wrote to Harsh Vardhan: “There is not enough sanitation facility available in the camp. There are few toilets and many are not in a good condition. There is an acute water crisis due to which the students are unable to use the toilets or take bath.”

Prabhakar said there are some 20 stray dogs in the camp, posing a health threat. “Dogs have low immunity and tend to catch any virus rapidly. Their presence in the camp is a threat to the safety of the students lodged here,” Kareem said.

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