Runaway COVID-19 suspect found after two days

COVID-19 National

The man has now tested negative for the virus; had escaped fearing a 14-day quarantine.

By Niket Nishant

A COVID-19 suspect from Jamshedpur, who had run away from his house at Kaveri Road after local police and health officials came to take him for tests, was found yesterday after a two-day search. His test results, which came out today, were negative. He was then let off with a warning.

The man had a history of inter-state travel. He was staying at Kaveri Road when locals reported that he had a cough and fever. On April 13, officials from the Health Department and the Mango Police Station reached his house to take him to the Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Hospital for tests. The man, however, escaped and could not be found even after a one-hour search by the police. Local media reported that his escape had caused widespread panic among the locals.

“Our informants in the area were on the lookout for him since April 13. On interrogation, we found that he had run away fearing a 14-day quarantine,” said the Deputy Station-in-charge, Mango Police.

In a similar incident, another person escaped from the quarantine facility at Kadma on April 15. He was later caught by the police and sent back to the facility. 

Authorities in Jamshedpur have been struggling to properly impose the lockdown since it began on March 25. Until April 13, FIRs were registered against 31 people from different parts of the city for violation of the lockdown. Videos circulated on social media also show people coming out of their houses for non-essential travel, brazenly disrespecting the seriousness of the pandemic.

“Not everyone has been respecting the stay-at-home orders,” said Mr. Mohammad Shahbaz, a resident of Kaveri Road. “People don’t roam about as freely as they did before, of course. But one can still see adults and kids alike coming out and gathering on the roads to chat.”

The Deputy Commissioner of the district, Mr. Ravishankar Shukla, and the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) have advised the police to be more vigilant and have singled out certain areas where stricter crackdown is needed to guarantee proper imposition of the lockdown, now extended till May 3.

Mr. Arjun Singh, a lawyer in the city, explains the legal provisions to punish such suspects who run away from homes or escape quarantine centers. “There are sections in the Indian Penal Code which can be brought in against such people,” he said. “There is Section 120 (B) for ‘criminal conspiracy’. There is also Section 304 for ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’. These runaways put public lives at great risk and should be dealt with firmly.”

In recent days, there have been many cases of quarantined suspects escaping the facilities. On April 3, one such suspect escaped the Ongole Hospital at Andhra Pradesh. He was later caught and brought back to the hospital. On April 6, another suspect in Haryana died after falling from the sixth floor of a hospital while attempting an escape by tying bedsheets together to make a rope.


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