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Home quarantine for migrant workers?

2 years ago

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  • Covid committee to decide today
  • 48,000 await repatriation
By Pamodi Waravita The National Operation Centre for Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) and the State Ministry for Foreign Employment Promotion and Market Diversification will be meeting today (21) to decide on allowing home quarantine for 48,000 migrant workers who are waiting to return to the island. Secretary to the State Ministry Suntharam Arumainayaham told The Morning yesterday (20) that the meeting will focus on moving away from the current institution-based quarantine system to an individual, home-based one. According to the new plan, migrant workers returning from any country will be allowed to be home-quarantined for 14 days. However, the question of whether home quarantine would be allowed in any district in Sri Lanka has still not been discussed, Arumainayaham further stated. Speaking to The Morning earlier in the day, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) Deputy General Manager R.K.K.M.P. Randeniya said that since repatriated workers are required to obtain a negative Covid-19 PCR test before flying back to Sri Lanka, a home-based quarantine system could be carried out successfully. According to Randeniya, the current institution-based quarantine system has made it difficult for most workers to return since they either have to wait for space at a government-run quarantine shelter or privately pay for a hotel, he said. However, since it is expensive to be quarantined at hotels, along with the additional cost of repatriation flights, Randeniya stated that a decision to allow home quarantine would come as a welcome move for many workers. When contacted, Community Development Services Executive Director Andrew Samuel, who has been working on migrant issues for the past 12 years, agreed that allowing home quarantine would decrease the cost of repatriation for most workers.  However, he cautioned of the need for proper guidelines regarding the two weeks at home, as many workers would be returning to their families after a couple of years, and this would be an emotional period for them.

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