Province 2 on high alert as India reports rise in Covid-19 casesHealth workers are worried about a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the province that shares a 460-kilometre-long open border with India.
Health officials have suggested authorities concerned and the residents of eight districts in Province 2 that share a border with India to stay on high alert, as cases of Covid-19 are on the rise in the southern neighbour.
Province 2 shares a 460-kilometre-long open border with India, which has worried health workers of a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in Nepal.
“A large number of Nepali migrant workers will return home from India to celebrate the upcoming Holi festival. It is essential that these returnees follow strict health security protocols while entering Nepal. The use of face masks and social distancing measures should be followed to control the possible spread of Covid-19,” said Dr Niraj Kumar Singh, a senior physician at Birgunj-based Narayani Hospital.
Health workers on Saturday set up a desk at the railway station in Raxaul, the bordering Indian town across Birgunj, to examine the health of the returnees arriving from various towns of India. According to Singh, three people who arrived in Birgunj from Kolkata and Mumbai a few days ago were diagnosed with pneumonia.
The Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre on Thursday recommended the federal government to resume cross-border transportation between Nepal and India. The Nepal-India border has been sealed since March last year to contain a possible outbreak of the virus. However, local residents say that despite the border closure, people have been crossing into the country through border areas with no security presence.
Following the rise in the number of Covid-19 patients in bordering Indian cities, the District Administration Office in Rautahat has started keeping a record of returnees from India.
“Not many people are returning from India these days. But we have set up a health desk in the Gaur-based border point to keep a record of returnees. They have been told to stay in their houses for a few days,” said Chief District Officer of Rautahat Indradev Yadav.
According to Yadav, only pedestrians are allowed to cross the border point at present. “Vehicles are not allowed to enter from the bordering areas,” said Yadav.
In mid-April 2020, Covid-19 infection was reported in over 1,000 returnees who had returned to Rautahat from India.
Meanwhile, in Sarlahi, the administration is facing difficulties in keeping a record of returnees, as people are sneaking into the district by taking advantage of the porous open border.
“The District Administration Office has tightened security along the border to stop illegal border crossings,” said Chief District Officer of Sarlahi Hem Raj Tamang.
According to him, the federal government has not said anything regarding the opening of the border points or maintaining a high alert along the border. “But we are adopting health safety measures to keep in check the Covid-19 infection rate,” said Tamang. The border points in Sarlahi have been closed for the past year.
(Om Prakash Thakur in Sarlahi and Shiva Puri in Rautahat contributed reporting)