COVID-19: Odisha seals borders to check influx of people from other states

Bhubaneswar: After allowing around 90,000 people to enter the state from COVID-19 affected countries and states by the first week of March, the Odisha government on Monday sealed its border with neighbouring states to restrict the influx of more people including migrant workers.

Odisha, where three persons have tested positive for coronavirus, shares its borders with Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.

Though all modes of passenger transport services have been suspended for over a week in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a large number of people were seen entering Odisha by road using hired private vehicles like cars, auto-rickshaw, mini-buses and trucks.

Many people were also found walking down miles from other states to return home in Odisha, a senior official said.

The influx of people from the COVID-19 hit states, particularly from Telangana, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and even Maharashtra and Kerala, had been a major headache for the state administration as they might be carriers of the highly infectious virus.

This apart, some of the people who return to COVID-19 hit states were not obeying quarantine norms and mixing with people in their villages, the official said.

“We have scaled up monitoring at the border and do not allow entry of anyone into Odisha. However, there is no restriction on the movement of goods carriers engaged in transporting essential commodities,” ADG, Law and Order, Soumendra Priyadarshi told PTI.

The state administration takes care of the food and medicine requirement of migrant workers detained in the border areas, he said.

Official sources said around 82,00 people, mostly migrant workers, came to Odisha from other states and 500 reached the state from abroad by the first week of March.

The state government sealed a day after the Orissa High Court asked the administration to direct the bordering district authorities to arrange for shelter, food, sanitation and medical checkups of migrant workers coming into Odisha from other states.

The people who came from West Bengal and detained by Odisha police at Jamsola check gate were kept at a temporary camp and provided food and medicines.

“I was in Kolkata and now want to return to my village. However, police are not allowing us to move further. They provided a camp for us to stay for 14 days,” said Kamala Pati, a housewife who came along with her children.

Similarly, 58 people were sent to quarantine by the local administration in Rourkela after they returned from a pilgrimage in Uttar Pradesh. They were kept in a quarantine centre developed by the Rourkela Municipal Corporation at Chhend for 14 days.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi said over 1.2 lakh migrant workers from Odisha were stranded mostly in five-states – Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and Telangana,

Bagchi said a 20-line call centre has been made operational round the clock to help Odia workers stranded in other states.

Odisha”s Labour Secretary Anu Garg, said the state administration has set up 250 camps in the state for over 20,000 migrant workers from other states, who are residing in Odisha.

Bagchi said as many as 1,25 lakh poor people in 2,261 gram panchayats and 19,886 people in 80 urban local bodies have been provided cooked food by the state.

On the state COVID-19 scenario, he said up to 12 noon of Monday, 370 samples have been tested and the number of positive cases still 3. He said 76 persons are isolation in different hospitals.

(PTI)

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