With borders reopened, Chandigarh sees rise in cases with travel history

Updated on Jun 18, 2020 12:03 AM IST

Of the 45 cases reported since June 8, when inter-state travel had resumed, 22 patients had recently travelled or were contacts of those who had travelled.

Under central government’s Unlock-1 guidelines, people’s movement was allowed without e-pass or permits. There is no restriction on people entering Chandigarh via road.(HT File Photo)
Under central government’s Unlock-1 guidelines, people’s movement was allowed without e-pass or permits. There is no restriction on people entering Chandigarh via road.(HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

With around 50% of the Covid-19 cases in the last 10 days being those of people who have recent travel history or are their contacts, UT’s nod to open the city’s borders has come under scrutiny.

Of the 45 cases reported since June 8, when inter-state travel had resumed, 22 patients had recently travelled or were contacts of those who had travelled, said Anil Kumar Garg, MC additional commissioner-cum-nodal officer, MC contact tracing team.

“There is marked shift in the cases being reported now. While earlier most cases were coming from the containment zone of Bapu Dham Colony, now nearly half of them are of travellers, their family members and even workplace contacts. Such cases are scattered, which makes it imperative to contain infection in those areas,” said a senior UT official, who didn’t want to be named.

Under central government’s Unlock-1 guidelines, people’s movement was allowed without e-pass or permits. There is no restriction on people entering Chandigarh via road. Though the administration had directed random screening at entry points, it remains limited.

Questioning the move to open city borders, Dr RS Bedi, former president of Chandigarh’s Indian Medical Association and adviser, World Medical Association, said, “People from Delhi and even Mumbai are coming to Chandigarh. Firstly, there are relatively fewer cases in Chandigarh compared to these cities. Secondly, people from places like Delhi, where the health infrastructure is under severe strain, are banking on the health facilities here.”

A doctor, requesting anonymity, said, “Even women were arriving from Delhi for deliveries. We cannot stop them or deny treatment. But, it is a disconcerting situation.”

Stating that the administration’s hands were tied in the matter, UT adviser Manoj Kumar Parida said, “We cannot stop the inter-state movement of people. Central government guidelines are very clear that there should be no border restrictions. No passes are needed. We are a union territory and have to follow central guidelines.”

“The administration is prepared for any eventuality. We are undertaking random screening of people entering the city by road. But, as per ICMR guidelines, we cannot test them if they have no symptoms,” he added.

18 CASES IN MOHALI

Even Mohali is seeing a similar pattern in cases. Since June 8, of the 61 Covid-19 cases reported in the district, 18 are travelers and 27 are their contacts. The 18 patients had returned from Delhi, Kashmir, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Faridabad, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Mohali civil surgeon Dr Manjit Singh said although all these patients had come from outside the state, they were being counted as patients of Mohali.

31 OUTSIDERS TESTED POSITIVE IN PANCHKULA

Panchkula, that has the lowest number of cases in the tricity at 55, has recorded 31 outstation patients since June 8.

Among the 31 cases, 15 are from Delhi-NCR, five from Gujarat and four from Mumbai. These are not included in the district tally.

“We are seeing people from different states testing positive here, but most are from Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat,” said civil surgeon Jasjeet Kaur.

Considering the spike in outstation cases, local MLA and speaker of the Haryana Assembly, Gian Chand Gupta has asked the district administration to involve the resident welfare associations (RWAs) to track travellers.

“Trace travellers with the help of RWAs and ensure all of them are tested. Residents should also proactively inform the authorities about visitors in their neighbourhood,” he told the district administration officials during a meeting on Wednesday.

Deputy commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja said, “We cannot turn down anyone approaching the flu centre for testing. We are maintaining a database of the hotspots in the country, and anyone travelling from these places to Panchkula is tracked and their testing is ensured.”

(With inputs from Hillary Victor and Shailee Dogra)

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