With the entire state of Manipur in green zone, the state government has shifted its focus to bring back natives stranded in different parts of the country, owing to the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown.
After the successful evacuation of 92 Manipuris from Guwahati and Mizoram on May 2, the state has geared up for large evacuation of stranded from the mainland.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Friday said that a train carrying as many as 1200 stranded Manipuris from Chennai will arrive on Tuesday in Jiribam district. Jiribam which is bordering Cachar district of Assam is the only district in the state Manipur with railway station. The train which will start from Chennai on May 9 will directly head to Jiribam without making a stop on the way.
Trains carrying a similar number of Manipuris per trip will disembark from Punjab and Chandigarh on May 12 and from Bengaluru on May 14, said the Chief Minister. Manipur cabinet has resolved that the state government will bear the train fare of all the stranded who are returning home except for those who are stranded in Northeastern region.
To ferry the returnee from Jiribam to Imphal (216km), he said, the state government has arranged 150 buses.
As per the data from the COVID-19 central control room set up in chief minister’s secretariat, nearly 45 thousands Manipuris have registered on http://www.tengbang.in, a portal launched to address the grievances of those stranded outside the state. Of the total registered, around 37 thousands are likely to return home.
The highest number of registration, as per the date, is from New Delhi with over 9000 people followed by Karnataka with over 4000, Maharashtra 3400, Tamil Nadu 2500 among others.
Besides online registration, the state has also appointed nodal officers who will be overseeing the mass evacuation exercise. Moreover, all the 60 MLAs concerned and civil bodies are also reportedly assisting collecting information of those stranded from their respective Assembly Constituencies in addition to identifying community quarantine centres.
To accommodate the huge number of people, Manipur chief secretary, Dr J. Suresh Babu said that the state have established 92 institutional quarantine centres having 3,225 bed capacity. In addition, Suresh Babu said 102 more centres including 67 community quarantine centres having 5,187 quarantine centres have been identified as standby.
As Quarantine will be mandatory for all incoming persons, symptomatic persons and others will undergo quarantine in institutional centres identified by the Government. However, those who are not required institutional quarantine will undergo home quarantine. Anyone, for any reason, cannot undergo home quarantine will be accommodated in community quarantine centres.
Manipur Health Department has said that all persons entering Manipur will be tested for COVID. To meet the challenge of testing large number of people, department informed that pool testing will be done if required. Enough stock of testing kits to test around 5000 people are in place, the department added.
Manipur has two testing labs, one in the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) and centrally sponsored Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal. The two labs have successfully conducted pool testing on 92 individuals who were brought back from Guwahati and Mizoram recently. All the passengers were tested negative and sent to home quarantine.
Despite being in the green zone, in view of the evacuation of thousands stranded coupled with rise of new cases in neighbouring states, the Home department of Manipur on Wednesday had decided to impose lockdown with limited relaxations to check the spread of COVID-19.
The state government lifted lockdown restrictions in more sectors in addition to 15 sectors it had lifted after the first phase. The Government has allowed opening of markets from 6 am to 4pm throughout the states and operating offices with 50 percent staff attendance among others. But as per the fresh guidelines, relaxation is once again confined on locality-based retail shops dealing with essential commodities like groceries for daily use, vegetables, fruits, poultry meat, and fish from 6am to 2 pm on all days except Sundays. Offices are allowed to function with only 33 percent staffs.Restriction on movement of public transportations, mass religious congregations among others are still in place.
Vigil along the border areas particularly Indo-Myanmar border are scaled up with constantly patrolling carried out by state police and central forces. Manipur shares 398km of its total borderline with Myanmar. The state had completely sealed its international borders with Myanmar on March 9 much ahead of the order by the centre.
Manipur reported only two positive cases of COVID-19, who are now fully cured and sent home. The first case was confirmed on March 24, a 23-year-old girl who returned from UK. The second case which was confirmed on April 1, linked to Nizamuddin congregation.
As per the state Government, Manipur is the only state which has done 100 percent screening of all domestic airline passengers. The state has screened as many as 2,02,130 people entering the state by air and road.