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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Numbers counting, govt has its task cut out; how to keep returning workers quarantined

As the district administrations are stretched, they are relying on village heads, villagers and drones to ensure recently returned workers mandatorily stay indoors for 14 days. They are also sticking posters outside the ‘quarantine’ houses to alert people to stay away from them.

Written by Avaneesh Mishra | Lucknow |
March 31, 2020 6:24:42 am
Migrant workers returning to their homes in UP sleep at a shelter home in Lucknow on Monday. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastava)

EVEN AS sealing of all borders on Monday has almost put a stop on more migrant workers entering the state, the task of all district administrations in UP is cut out to ensure that the returnees adhere strictly to quarantine rules.

As the district administrations are stretched, they are relying on village heads, villagers and drones to ensure recently returned workers mandatorily stay indoors for 14 days. They are also sticking posters outside the ‘quarantine’ houses to alert people to stay away from them.

Officials are also making announcements over do’s and don’ts related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In many villages, the returned workers are being quarantined in schools, other public buildings or homes, depending on the severity of cases.

Chief Secretary R K Tiwari had said that people returning to the state would be put under the mandatory 14-day quarantine before being allowed to meet their families.

Officials said “lakhs” of migrant workers have returned to the state and that all Community Health Centres (CHCs) that are close to district entry points have been asked to sanitise their premises and ensure that 30-50 isolation beds are ready.

In Pilibhit district, where more than 1,800 migrant workers have entered by Monday, all of them have undergone preliminary medical tests and were sent to their respective villages with strict instructions to stay under home quarantine.

“After the primary checkup, we are letting them go to their houses to be in-home quarantine and we are putting up stickers outside their houses, asking the people to not interact with them or go inside the house till the quarantine period is over,” said Pilibhit District Magistrate (DM) Vaibhav Srivastava.

Migrant workers at a government-run shelter home at Haj House in Lucknow on Monday.(Express photo by Vishal Srivastava)

“To ensure these people stay in isolation, we have appointed all the village heads concerned as nodal officers,” he added.

Asked if they are facing problems because in rural areas people do not have enough rooms to maintain social distancing, the DM said they have not faced any such problem so far and even if they do, they are prepared for that. “We already have identified nine shelter homes and we can shift these people if required,” he said.

Similar measures — such as posters and drones — are being followed in Badaun district, where according to DM Kumar Prashant, so far around 7,200 such migrants have already entered.

“If anyone is found to be a suspected case, we will test them. In addition to this, we have 45 people in a night shelter. Arrangements have been made for food,” said Prashant.

“However, we still face problems due to people not following quarantine instructions and we cannot keep a constant watch. For this, we have to take the help of local residents. Our dedicated control room has received 267 calls just from Monday morning to evening. People are vigilant and that is helping us,” he said, adding that they are also using drones to monitor if there is crowd gathered in one place. These drones can take photos from which people can be identified later for action against them.

Talking about the situation in districts under his range, DIG Bareilly range, Rajesh Kumar Pandey said the intake on Monday was “very low” as all borders in the state have been sealed. Inter-district travel, however, is still on. He informed that those who entered are being kept in quarantine at primary school premises in their respective villages.

“The situation is that as an average there are 15-20 persons in a village who came from outside. All of those villages have primary schools with at least 3-4 room in each school, in addition to a room allotted to the Aanganwaadi and one for the mid-day-meal purpose. With this, around 4-5 people are kept in one room while maintaining social distancing. The great thing is that the other villagers are super-vigilant. It is not possible for government agencies to reach each and every village. But we have seen that locals themselves are standing outside these primary schools with canes in their hands and are not letting people come out and roam freely,” he added.

Shambhu Kumar, DM of Bahraich district, which reportedly has the highest number of migrants returning, had earlier informed that they have made all necessary arrangements and all those coming are being tested using thermal scanners and put into institutional quarantine only if needed.

“We have made all the arrangements. At the district border, there are several camps set up and a medical team of at least five doctors is there.

Thermal screening of everyone coming is being done. In case we find necessary we have made arrangements of both home isolation and institutional quarantine.

We have also taken the help of the transport department and both private and government buses for last-mile transport is available at all district entry points along with the arrangement of food and water there,” he said.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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