Updated: April 17, 2020 6:55:47 pm
A 21-year-old man from Pune, who surreptitiously travelled 370 km on his two-wheeler, sneaking in through three ‘sealed’ district borders to reach Parbhani earlier this week, became the first Covid-19 positive patient in the district which so far had managed to remain in ‘Green Zone’ with no reported case so far.
The man, who hails from Jawala Bazaar in Hingoli District and works at a furniture store in Bhosari near Pune, left his residence in Bhosari on April 12 night and reached his brother-in-law’s home in Parbhani next morning. As he was complaining of throat irritation, he was taken to a public health centre by the relative where a throat swab was taken and sent to a lab. The result came positive on Thursday.
Interestingly, the 21-year-old was stopped by policemen at check-posts at two of the three district borders he crossed but somehow managed to give the cops a slip and continue his journey. At least 14 persons deployed at Matori check-post at Ahmednagar-Beed border and five persons at Dhalegaon check-post at Beed-Parbhani border who came into his contact have been quarantined and are being tested.
Parbhani collector Deepak Muglikar said although borders of the district have been sealed and check-posts set up at 15 entry points to the district, a small number of persons manage to dodge the system and sneak in. This has caused the administration to strengthen the surveillance at villages along the district border.
“This man left in the dead of the night from Pune and reached our border with Beed District near Dhalegaon in the early hours. The policemen on the check-post intercepted him and turned him away. He, however, somehow crossed the border from some other point and landed at his brother-in-law’s house in Parbhani town. He is not a Parbhani resident. He is from Jawala Bazaar, a town about 40 km from here,” said Muglikar.
After the man tested positive, a total of 17 persons which include nine members of his brother-in-law’s family, three police personnel who had intercepted him at Dhalegaon check post, two other civilians, medical personnel at the hospital where he was inspected have been taken into institutional quarantine and are being screened for Covid-19. Similarly, two relatives of the person in Bhosari have also been isolated and are being tested after authorities in Parbhani alerted their colleagues in Pune District.
Until Thursday, Parbhani was among the eight districts in the state (of the total 36) which did not have a single positive Covid-19 case and was classified as a ‘Green Zone’, despite thousands of migrant workers returning to the district in last one and a half months. The first detection came as a setback to the administration and also sent panic waves among the citizens who were hoping to see partial easing of the lockdown as indicated by the state government last week.
The detection, on the other hand, has actually resulted in the strengthening of the lockdown measures with the sealing of the entire MIDC area of the town and stricter control on the movement of the citizens.
Vishal Bhudhwant, a political worker, from the area said, “The district was in Green Zone and the markets may have opened to some extent in a few days. However, now it appears unlikely that the administration will take any such move.”
As per officials, the man has claimed that he and two others relatives had visited Pimpri’s Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital a few days before he left for Parbhani after feeling unwell, however, they were given some medicine and sent back home without testing for Covid-19. “Had they been tested and detected in Pune, this whole trouble could have been avoided,” said an official.
Muglikar said despite all the measures to discourage the migrant workers from returning to their homes in Parbhani, as many as 36,000 persons have entered the district since the outbreak began. The district has directed such travellers to remain in home quarantine for 14 days and have also surveyed all such individuals with the help of Asha Workers and Anganwadi Sevikas. “We found 1,150 persons who showed some symptoms. Of these 950 were referred to rural hospitals, primary health centres and such. So far, the district administration has sent throat swabs of 379 patients for testing of which all turned out to be negative except one. Results of 24 are awaited.
“Those who are crossing the borders unauthorisedly, are doing so either on foot or by hiding inside the vehicles involved in essential services. Since Thursday, we have further intensified our vigil. Similarly, we have informed Police Patils (villagers working for police) to be extra-vigilant to ensure that travellers do not cross the borders using internal roads,” said Muglikar.
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