Amid Covid-19 threat, Banbasa border sees a sudden influx of people returning home from IndiaStudents are returning in droves as schools and colleges in Dehradun are closed.
Suraj Rauniyar, who has been studying agricultural science in Dehradun in Uttarakhand, India, returned to his hometown in Surkhet through Banbasa border point in Kanchanpur on Tuesday.
He usually visits home during major festivals and semester breaks. But he returned home this time due to immense pressure from the family members who were concerned about his wellbeing amid Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our college is closed so I returned home,” Rauniyar told the Post upon his arrival in Kanchanpur. He was accompanied by seven other Nepali students, also studying in in Uttarakhand.
According to Rauniyar, there are around 10,000 Nepali students in Dehradun, where most of the schools and colleges have been closed after a man tested positive for Covid-19 in Uttarakhand.
“The disease terror has multiplied in Dehradun in the past two-three days,” said Abhishek Makarali of Gorkha. He has been studying in Dehradun for the past three years.
“There are more than 400 Nepali students at my college. Some have returned home and others are in the process of returning,” added Makarali.
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the Banbasa border crossing has witnessed a sudden influx in the number of Nepali students and migrant workers returning home.
Banbasa is one of the four border points between India and Nepal that remain open despite the coronavirus crisis. India has agreed to keep these border points operational for the time being in order to facilitate the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
According to the officials at the border health desk in Banbasa, 1,000-1,200 Nepalis are returning home through the Banbasa border daily.
Dan Singh Bohara, an employee at the help desk set up at the Banbasa border by the Sudurpaschim provincial government, said students from Dehradun, Punjab, Delhi, and Haryana are returning in droves.
More than half of the people who entered the country through the Banbasa border in the last three days were students.
Migrant workers are also returning in great numbers. Manaraj Chaulagain and several other people from his village in Bardiya had gone to Mussorie in search of jobs only a month ago. They returned on Sunday as the coronavirus outbreak has also hit the labour market and businesses.
“There are no jobs right now due to the coronavirus scare. I was planning to return home for paddy farming only in July,” said Chaulagain.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 31, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,047,908 people with 368,758 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 66,457 confirmed cases with 1,395 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1401 cases with six deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.