Rahimpur middle school is one of the 3,115 schools of Bihar being tested to keep migrants under quarantine. Though about 1.8 lakh people returned to Bihar before and during lockdown, about 27,300 migrants having cough and cold have been kept at schools under quarantine, the rest have been allowed to stay at home. The state government has been collecting samples from symptomatic cases to screen out migrants in its ongoing six-phase of screening process.
Even though the school has 10 classrooms, eight migrants, who have returned from Delhi, have been kept in 1 classroom with three feet distance kept between two beds. While six migrants are in early 20s, two are in 40s. All had been working as daily wagers.
On Friday, five of them had slipped out of the school to find shops for gutkha (tobacco). When some villagers spotted them moving around in the village, they beat them up and later also drove them out of the school to “live with their families, rather than putting villagers at risk”. Police had to be called to intervene and bring back all five of them to quarantine at the school. A chowkidar has now been posted at the school.
The school headmaster Devdatta Sahu told The Indian Express, “It has been really tough to keep migrants under quarantine at the school. I have been posted here on 24-hour duty. They like to go out for flimsy reason”. He said the government had been providing them three meals a day. Asked why all eight people were kept in one classroom, the headmaster said, “We have maintained distance between two beds”.
The headmaster said they had to ensure that migrants’ families also did not meet them. “We are relieved that medical team has not taken any sample from our school. But we still have to keep them under quarantine for another 10 days”, he said.
Manoj Kumar, a resident of Rahimpur village, said: “Villagers have been very vigilant now. We are not taking any chances after migrants have slipped away once”.
A senior government official said though most villages had been cooperating with them in quarantine of migrants at schools, some villagers had been also casual. “We are getting complaints of people under quarantine leaving the schools for their families and returning to the schools in mornings. Such things are happening mostly in remote and riverine belt schools”, said a senior officer.
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