Police patrol a street during a lockdown as a preventive measure against Covid-19 in Amritsar on March 24. (Photo: AFP)
An archbishop in India's Kerala state has earned appreciation from the state's communist chief minister and local administration for his exemplary decision to self-quarantine on his return from a foreign trip amid the Covid–19 outbreak.
Archbishop George Njaralakatt of Tellicherry has self-quarantined inside his room in the archbishop's house in Kannur district since his return on March 19 from Australia.
State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the local administration have projected the archbishop's case an example for the public to follow in the state, which has become the second-most affected state in India.
Kerala had recorded 95 of India's 492 Covid-19 cases as of March 24. Maharashtra state on the western coast was the worst affected with 101 cases. India has had 10 deaths.
India will witness more cases as it gets the results of thousands of tests, officials said.
Kannur district information officer E.K. Padmanabhan said that when he heard about the archbishop's case, he asked the prelate to share the experience in a video "so that it can be viewed by the masses, especially those skeptical of quarantine."
Archbishop Njaralakatt has recorded a four-minute video explaining how he spends his time. He urged people to follow government guidelines and practice social distancing to tide over the pandemic.
Padmanabhan shared the video with the district's highest government officials and the office of the chief minister.
Chief Minister Vijayan shared it on his official Facebook on March 21 and wrote: "You should take [this] example and show concern for others."
Vijayan also mentioned the archbishop at a press conference and said: "The archbishop went for self-quarantine on his return from an Australian trip. He has also asked faithful to follow the guidelines strictly."
Kannur district collector T.V. Subhash also shared the video on his official Facebook account.
"These measures will help people to follow the example of the bishop and cooperate with the government in controlling the pandemic," the collector said.
Archbishop Njaralakatt told UCA News over the phone that "it is a unique experience. I am discharging most of my administrative duties on the phone sitting in my room."
"I make calls, and I'm always available on the phone to whosoever calls me," the prelate added. "I use the opportunity to pray for the speedy recovery of the affected people and also for peace, harmony and prosperity for all."
The archbishop's secretary, who drove his car from airport, is also on self-quarantine for 14 days, said a priest attached to the archbishop's house.
He said Archbishop Njaralakatt went to his room directly after he arrived from the airport and quarantined himself by complying with the government's guidelines for mandatory 14-day isolation.
The administration projected the archbishop as an example after several people who arrived from abroad defied government instructions in the district, which resulted in a spike of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
India is not taking violations of curfews, lockdowns and home quarantine lightly. Scores of people have been fined under the provisions of the British-era Epidemic Disease Act, which allows the government to punish people who disobey directions during an epidemic.
A senior police officer in the southern Indian state of Telangana was booked after he failed to inform authorities about the arrival of his son, who tested positive for coronavirus, from the UK recently.
India has shut down non-essential businesses, worship places, mass transport systems and domestic and international passenger flights in a desperate bid to arrest the spread of the deadly coronavirus.