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Incoming migrants main challenge to stop Covid-19 spread: Officials

Mamata Banerjee said 75,000 migrant workers had already entered Bengal in trains, and over five lakh had come back in buses and cars.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: May 31, 2020 8:17:40 am
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, Supreme Court, Supreme Court on migrant crisis, migrant crisis, India lockdown, Express Editorial, Indian Express State health officials said they were also searching for 59 migrant workers scheduled to return to Raiganj station from Uttar Pradesh on May 29. (Express Photo/Shashi Gosh)

With migrant labourers streaming into Bengal, the state government is having a hard time tracking them down and quarantining them to check the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Cooch Behar, the only district in the state that had not recorded any infection till now, recorded 32 cases on Saturday. According to sources in the state health department, all of them are migrant workers who recently returned home from other states.

The health authorities said of the six new people in Darjeeling reported to have contracted the disease, four had recently returned from other states. Officials said the throat swab samples of a woman and a girl from Sonada, and two men from Kurseong had been taken 11 days ago. All four have travel history, according to Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Chairman Anit Thapa.

State health officials said they were also searching for 59 migrant workers scheduled to return to Raiganj station from Uttar Pradesh on May 29.

A district official said, “We have a list where it was written that two trains would reach Raiganj station from Uttar Pradesh. One train was carrying 70 migrant workers and the other 86. Later, we received 86 workers travelling in the second train, but could trace only 11 passengers from the first train. We have no clue where the 59 workers have gone.”

He added, “Our primary suspicion is that these 59 workers might have alighted where the train had slowed down before reaching Raiganj. We have no trace of those passengers yet.”

With the spike in Covid-19 cases in the state in recent days, the challenge for district officials has increased.

A District Magistrate said, “The migrant workers are coming to the state not only by trains, but also buses and hired cars. They are flowing into the state during the day as well as night. So, we have to keep a tab on them round the clock. We have five entry points in the districts and are monitoring all of them. However, many migrant workers are coming without any intimation. To stop that we have started a helpline numbers and created a network of people. In every block, these people provide updates on villagers who have recently come from outside.”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said many of those who tested positive recently were migrant workers returning home.

“We were successful in controlling the spread of Covid-19 in the last two months, but now it is increasing as lots of people are coming from outside. The Railways is sending migrants in jam-packed compartments as a result of which the number of cases is increasing. The Railways has some social obligation; they cannot operate based on profit and loss. They are sending Corona Express instead of Shramik Special Express,” Banerjee told reporters.

She said 75,000 migrant workers had already entered Bengal in trains, and over five lakh had come back in buses and cars.

 

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