From Delhi to Kambamettu: Kerala couple's 2,626km-long road trip amid COVID-19 lockdown

From Delhi to Kambamettu: Kerala couple's 2,626km-long road trip amid COVID-19 lockdown
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Thodupuzha: A Kerala couple, who reached New Delhi from Australia on March 20 and had undergone a 14-day quarantine period, travelled from the national capital to Kerala in a taxi, until they were stopped at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border on April 16.

The couple travelled 2,626km crossing nine states and were reportedly able to cross the borders of states with a pass issued by a former Kerala MP, until they were stopped at the Kambamettu check-post in Idukki.

The woman, a 65-year-old hailing from Pala in Kerala's Kottayam district, was tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Fortunately, her husband's test results came negative.

The couple, who were lodged in a quarantine facility in Idukki, were shifted to Kottayam Medical College Wednesday night.

The road trip

According to their travel records, the couple had gone to Australia on March 5 and returned to Delhi 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. They started from Delhi in an AC cab and reached Kerala border on April 16.

Though they sought permission to travel to Pala, it was denied by the police. Even some MLAs contacted the officials with the same request. The health department officials had said that they would only allow the couple to travel to Pala if the Idukki Collector gives permission.

Later, they were taken to the Kambamettu police station, while the taxi driver returned to Delhi. They paid Rs 1 lakh as taxi fare.

They survived on just bread and water all through the journey. The couple also said that they did not even stop to take rest. The authorities are checking if their claims are true.

Station house officer G Sunil Kumar provided food and clothing to them. He also made arrangements for them to take rest at the station. Later, they were put under isolation at a quarantine centre at Thookupalam in Idukki as per the instructions of the health department officials.

Contact tracing

The couple were at the station for nearly an hour. During the period, there were 15 police personnel, including the SHO, and some visitors at the station.

A cop, who was present at the Kambamettu station on that evening, reportedly went to the Nedumkandam station the next day.

Around 45 people came in contact with the couple at the check-post, including Tamil Nadu police personnel and some people's representatives, as per preliminary reports.

The woman's husband was a college professor in Karnataka. Both their children are software engineers in Australia.

Route map of the Pala couple

March 20: Reached Delhi by 5.15pm from Melbourne in Australia. Put under observation for two days at the SGT Hospital at Gurgaon in Haryana. Then they were in isolation at the hotel room till April 13.

April 14: Hired a cab to travel to Kerala from Delhi. They travelled though Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

April 16: Reached the Kambamettu check-post in Idukki. They were then put under quarantine at the COVID-19 care centre at Thookupalam in Idukki.

April 22: Taken to the Kottayam Medical College Hospital.

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