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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Over 20,000 to land in Punjab from abroad in next few days

They can stay in ‘paid quarantine centres’ or avail free govt facilities

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published: May 9, 2020 10:36:26 am
Over 20,000 to land in Punjab from abroad in next few days Closed since lockdown, the Palm Court hotel being reopened and cleaned to serve as a quarantine facility for NRIs on their return in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

OVER 20,000 Punjabis stranded abroad are expected to land in the state over the next few days starting Saturday, for whom the state government is making arrangements of ‘paid quarantine’ for 14 days.

One such flight will land in New Delhi on Saturday from Dhaka with seven Punjabis on board. On May 11, another flight from Dhaka with 11 more Punjabis will arrive, while 56 Punjabis will be coming from the US on May 19 via New Delhi.

Deputy commissioners at the district level have started tying up with hotels apart from making hostels of universities and colleges ready as government quarantine centres.

These foreign returnees will be kept for 14 days’ ‘paid quarantine’.

“This is as per Government of India’s guidelines and we are working on the modalities i.e price factor for staying in hostels, or hotels,” said Rahul Bhandari, secretary, NRI affairs, while speaking to The Indian Express. He added, “On Friday we got intimation from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that nearly 20,000 stranded Punjabis will be coming to the state and they will be intimating us 48 hours prior to their entry in India. Hence we are gearing up our system. Everyone will be quarantined for 14 days, hence I think we need not panic over this. Out of these, 2,949 have registered themselves on the Punjab government’s portal. However, 20,000 is the consolidated figure.”

Though the government is working on modalities, sources said the ‘paid quarantine’ will cost at least Rs 1,000 a day and the maximum can depend upon the person as which hotel he/she chose to stay in. In Ludhiana, so far intimation is for about 299 Punjabis coming from different countries for which as of now, they have tied up with 9 hotels.

If a passenger chooses to stay in a government quarantine centre, no charges will be levied.

G K Bansal, assistant commissioner (general) to the Ludhiana DC, said, “We are tying up with hotels and arranging government quarantine centres as well. It will be optional for persons to stay in government centres or in hotels. If needed, we will tie up with more hotels as well.”

Hotel industry gears up

Meanwhile, the hotel industry is gearing up to offer their buildings as quarantine centres as otherwise also, the hotels are vacant and running into losses.

Chahat Khanna, owner of Palm Court hotel, Ludhiana, said, “I have offered my hotel as quarantine centre. I have 40 rooms, and my nearly 20 staff members are being trained to serve meals to persons wearing PPE kits and attend to their queries while taking all precautions…We have proposed charges of Rs 3,200 per day including all meals.”

In case anyone tests positive, he/she will be shifted to hospital and the room will be sanitized by health workers. Hotel owners are giving PPE kits to their sweepers, waiters, staff members apart from masks and gloves.

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