India home quarantine families face discrimination

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Warning stickers have been pasted outside houses of those who are in home quarantine

India has quarantined tens of thousands of people in their homes. But some of the measures designed to keep them inside – like the signs posted outside their houses and releasing their personal data – have led to unintended, and unpleasant, consequences. 

Bharat Dhingra’s family of six have been in “home quarantine” in India’s capital, Delhi, since his brother and sister-in-law returned from the US on 22 March. Neither have displayed any symptoms, but the entire family followed government advice and self-quarantined.

Then officials posted a sticker outside their houses that read: “Do not visit. Home under quarantine”. It was supposed to ensure people abided by the rules. But for people like Mr Dhingra – who was already diligently following the rules – the sign has caused “stress and psychological pressure”.

“Our house has become like a zoo,” he told the BBC. “People stop to take pictures when they pass by. Our neighbours tell us to go inside even when we step out into our balcony for a minute. “We also understand that the houses that are in quarantine need to be marked for awareness,” he acknowledged. “Government officials have been very nice to us, but it’s the attitude of some people that hurts. “Some people shared the picture of our house in local WhatsApp groups as a warning.” He said it violated his family’s privacy.

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