Indian state uses hand-stamps to identify self-quarantined persons

Hand-stamping in Maharashtra (Photo courtesy: Indian Express)

In a shocking development, the government in India’s richest state, Maharashtra, has begun ‘marking’ with a stamp of indelible ink all who have been medically advised to self-quarantine. The words ‘home quarantine’ are being stamped on the hands of suspected carriers in a bid to ensure that they isolate themselves for 14 days.

The ink being used is the same as the one that is used to mark voters during elections.

Maharashtra is at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in India, with at least 39 having tested positive for the virus, and over a 100 quarantined in hospitals. Additionally, over 600 people have also been advised to self-quarantine at home.

“People who have been advised to self-quarantine will be stamped, like during elections, on their hand mentioning the date until when they should be indoors. If such people go out, others can identify them as home quarantine patients,” clarified Rajesh Tope, the state Health Minister, on Tuesday.

People who have a recent history of foreign travel or who have been in contact with a history of recent overseas travel — but are symptom-free — have been advised to home quarantine.

“Those who require self-quarantine but don’t want to stay in hospital or hotels and want to go home, they should have a sense of responsibility. They should not roam around freely. They should follow quarantine strictly,” the state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the media on Tuesday.

Most of India is in lockdown after reports of new cases emerging from most of the states almost on a daily basis. The number of fatalities in India, however, remains at three.