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This Indian State Wants People In Coronavirus Quarantine To Send Them Selfies Every Hour

The app that sends the selfies will also send GPS coordinates so that officials can verify the person’s location.

Posted on March 30, 2020, at 12:56 p.m. ET

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Narinder Nanu / Getty Images

People in India maintain the recommended distance while waiting to receive free grocery items distributed by police officials during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.

A state in southern India has come up with a controversial solution to make sure that people quarantined at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus stay at home: It wants them to send a selfie to the government every waking hour.

According to the minister of Medical Education of the state of Karnataka, quarantined people will be required to download an app on their phones, through which they must take and send a selfie every hour to government officials from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The app will also send the person’s GPS coordinates, so that officials can verify the person’s location.

If a quarantined person doesn’t send a selfie, they might be transferred to one of the Indian government’s quarantine centers, which have become notorious for unsanitary conditions.

“Every selfie sent by Home Quarantine [sic] person is seen by Government Photo Verification team,” a press release from the ministry said. “So if wrong photos are sent then also defaulter will be shifted to Mass Quarantine.”

K. Sudhakar, Karnataka’s minister of Medical Education, did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. Three other officials at the Karnataka Health Department did not respond to requests for comment.

On Twitter, Indians slammed the order, saying that it violated their privacy.

More paternalistic rubbish that infringes on privacy. How about governments just do their job and ensure that people under quarantine don't have to leave home?

Twitter / Via Twitter: @mitalisaran



Earlier this month, the Indian state of Maharashtra started stamping the hands of people flying into the country with indelible ink stating the date until which they must remain in their houses.

As of Monday, India had just over a thousand reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 29 deaths. Last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi put the country’s 1.3 billion people under lockdown and canceled all flights, trains, and buses to slow the spread of the virus.

The move, which was announced hours before the lockdown came into effect, sparked panic buying of food and other essentials across the country, and left millions of migrant laborers stranded at state borders, rendering them homeless and jobless.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.