An elderly couple managed to escape lockdown restrictions and travel, from the Indian capital of Delhi all the way to the state of Kerala, by road last week. The wife has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The couple covered around 2,700 kilometers and seven states without getting stopped.
It all started when the woman and her husband were returning from Australia on March 21, after a trip to their relatives there. Since they had returned from abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic the couple were asked to be in quarantine for the next 14 days, which they did.
According to a report by theweek.in: “The couple had returned to India after a brief trip to Australia on March 20. They were asked to be in isolation in Delhi for 14 days by the state health department upon their arrival at the Delhi international airport. The couple, then, quarantined themselves at a hotel in Delhi at their own expenses. As they did not have any symptoms, they were given permission for travel by the state authorities after the quarantine period got over."
Twitter users shared news reports about the couple who somehow managed to leave Delhi in a rented car, on April 13.
According to an indiatimes.com article, they were planning to reach their hometown in Kerala's Kottayam district. For the next couple of days, they drove across seven states amid the lockdown but was not stopped anywhere on the road.
Indian news website onmanorama.com reported the couple travelled through Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu to reach Kerala.
On April 16 they were stopped at the Cumbummettu check post at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border by the Kerala police after their car tried to enter the state.
The couple sought permission to travel to Pala, which the police denied. Reportedly, a few MLAs contacted the officials with requests to allow the couple to reach their destination. However, the health department officials had said that they would only allow the couple to travel to Pala if the Idukki Collector gives the permission.
It is also reported that the rented car was driven by a policeman form Delhi, presumably a relative of the couple. At the Cumbummettu check post, he too was asked to remain in quarantine, but he refused and fled with the car to return to Delhi. According to Onmanorama, the couple paid Rs1 lakh (Dh4817) as taxi fare.
It is also reported in the article that apparently, a former Kerala MP came to their aid as the legislator managed to get a pass for the couple. The couple crossed the state borders without much scrutiny, due to the pass. Also, it is yet unclear if the couple was tested for COVID-19 at various state borders during their journey in the lockdown period.
The couple survived on just bread and water all through the journey. They also said they did not even stop to take rest. The authorities are checking if their claims are true.
The pair were put under isolation at a quarantine center at Thookkupalam in Idukki district as per the instructions of the health department officials. Their samples were collected and sent for testing.
The results arrived on Wednesday and the 65-year-old woman has been tested positive for COVID-19 while her husband's test resulted negative. She has been shifted to the Kottayam Medical College Hospital.
The authorities are now trying to verify if their claims are true and are trying to trace the contacts.