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Rahul Gandhi visits Tamil Nadu only 5 days after returning from Italy: Is he breaking quarantine rules?

Netizens wondered how Rahul Gandhi avoided the 14 day quarantine period after returning from Italy

Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, who had returned to India on Sunday from his international trip to Italy, was spotted participating in Pongal celebrations and having lunch with people in Madurai on Thursday. In a desperate attempt at image makeover, he had also attended the Jallikattu festival, despite the track record of the party in opposing the tradition tooth and nail.

However, on seeing Rahul Gandhi amidst a public gathering just after 5 days from his arrival to India, netizens questioned whether the Congress scion had been flouting quarantine and social distancing guidelines. Advocate Chandni Shah inquired, “Aren’t you suppose to quarantine yourself, Mr Rahul Gandhi, after returning from a trip outside India? No obligations towards Covid-19 rules? Or is it your favourite tune to jeopaπdize the Nation and it’s a citizen in whatsoever manner and dance upon it?”

Other users wondered whether the Congress dynast was exempted from quarantine, unlike the common public. “Why did Rahul Gandhi not quarantine himself like all others returning to India do? Or had he gone to get himself vaccinated overseas? Why this ‘law does not apply to me’ attitude?” another user asked.

Twitter user Hari Mallabadi wondered whether Rahul Gandhi observed a 14-day quarantine period. He asked, “Why was he not stamped for quarantine since he came from a European country? Rules are only for general public? Not for VIPs?”

What does the rules say?

As per reports, Rahul Gandhi returned to India on January 10 while his visit to the State of Tamil Nadu took place today (January 14). While it has just been 5 days, the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare calls for 14-day quarantine (or self-monitoring) period either at home/institutional facility. However, there are certain exceptions to the rules.

Home quarantine for 14 days can be granted, in place of institutional quarantine, only in case of certain situations such as pregnancy, death of family members, serious illness or if individuals are parents of children who are below the age of 14. Such individuals must communicate the same at least 72 hours (3 days) prior to boarding. The decision taken by the government authority will be final in the case.

Similarly, individuals travelling to India from abroad can be exempted from institutional quarantine if they submit a negative RT-PCR (Real-Time Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction) report on the online portal. The individual should take the test within 3 days of boarding and also provide a declaration reinstating the authenticity of the report. Such individuals might also submit the certificate at the airport or take an RT-PCR test at the airport itself to seek exemption from institutional quarantine.

As discussed above, home quarantine can be availed and institutional quarantine can be avoided, post thermal screening, in case of pregnancy, death of family members, serious illness or if individuals are parents of children who are below the age of 14. Assuming that this is not the case with Rahul Gandhi, he might still get an exemption from quarantine altogether if he has a negative RT-PCR certificate. Such a certificate is valid only if the test was conducted with 72 hours of his boarding the flight. And all individuals, who are exempted from quarantine, are thus advised to undertake self-monitoring instead.

As such, it is quite possible that Rahul Gandhi might have furnished his negative RT-PCR certificate to the government portal to claim such an exemption to travel to Madurai. However, even in this case, a self-monitoring of one’s health is required. While netizens have questioned whether Rahul Gandhi had been violating quarantine protocols, nothing can be said with certainty at this point.

Having said that, it is important to note that the Congress scion was seen surrounded by Congress workers on several occasions, while openly flouting the social distancing guidelines. Such a spectacle was witnessed when he sat to have his lunch. While Rahul Gandhi might not be required to undergo quarantine, the violation of social distancing rules was indeed a glaring one.

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