When Rajendra (49), who travelled from UP’s Sitapur to Delhi in search of a job, got off the bus at Anand Vihar bus terminal around 11.30 on Tuesday, he was told by officials in uniform that he needed to get tested for coronavirus.
Rajendra, his son, and other commuters walked into the station, where three camps were set up by the Delhi government. People stood in line to get a token, following which they joined another line to undergo rapid antigen tests.
While most getting tested had travelled from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, a few were inter-city commuters. Three doctors, 12 lab technicians and three staff members, who collect biomedical waste at government-run dispensaries, were deployed at the spot.
Dr Vikas Kumar, in-charge of the testing process, said, “Our aim is to get over 600 people tested today. We started on August 13, testing 211 people, and increased the number of tests by around 100 every day. Civil defence officers gather travellers and inform them about the tests.”
Soon, the number of people waiting in line multiplied.
Rajendra, who lost sight of his son, could not remember his phone number, which was required to register for the test. After searching for 10 minutes, he found his son and the duo registered. They sat on chairs while lab technicians in PPEs took nasal swabs.
Officials said that if one does not have a phone, they can give a relative’s number or their Aadhaar card number. Those getting tested were assigned numbers, which were written on test kits. People were tested in batches and those who tested positive were informed in 15-20 minutes.
Among them was a 53-year-old man, who doctors asked to step aside. When he was told he would be taken to the Commonwealth Games quarantine centre, he requested officials to let him be in home quarantine.
The man, a resident of Ghaziabad, said, “I left home to go to Karol Bagh for work today. I work at an eyewear store. I had a sore throat but did not look too much into it. The test results came positive. There is space at my house and I do not mind being home quarantined.”
Within half an hour, he slipped away. Officials could not contact him as he had switched off his phone. A civil defence officer said, “There is at least one such case every day. There are so many people at the station that it becomes difficult to stop them.”
By 2 pm, 608 tests were conducted. Out of them, six who tested positive were taken to the CWG quarantine centre in an ambulance. Only those with comorbid conditions or more serious symptoms such as breathing problems are taken to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
While most travellers were glad they could get tested for free, some said this caught them off guard.
Renu Kumari (17), who travelled from UP’s Khera along with her younger sister, said: “We had left for our village when there was no work in the city. But now, my father is unwell and we were living on borrowed money. I need to join work again as a domestic help today.”
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