Only 60 of 75,000 migrants sent home from Ghaziabad tested, results yet to comeUpdated: May 21, 2020 23:30 IST
Ghaziabad: Even as thousands of migrant workers are sent home from Ghaziabad to their hometowns by buses and trains every day, the health department has tested only 60 workers for the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease since Monday, with another 30 samples on Thursday.
According to an estimate by district authorities, around 75,000 migrant workers have been sent to their home towns from Ghaziabad by state-run Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) buses, as well as trains which are plying from Ghaziabad railway station to cities in UP and Bihar. This figure, however, does not include those migrant workers who have left from the district or have gone through on foot or in trucks.
The state health department officials said Thursday evening that out of a total of 46,142 migrant workers tested so far, at least 1,230 have tested positive for Covid-19. There have been concerns that the reverse migration could take the virus to their home districts and towns which have hitherto not seen coronavirus cases.
“The directions for taking up sampling of migrant workers were received only three days ago and we were asked to collect 20 samples each day for pool testing. So far, we have collected only 60 samples in three days (till Wednesday) and reports of these are yet to be received. We sent the samples initially to Noida for testing but they denied (undertaking testing). Now, these samples have been sent to Meerut and test reports are awaited,” said Dr NK Gupta, chief medical officer.
“The migrant workers should be checked comprehensively but we started taking sampling only when directions came from state officials three days ago. We have noted details of workers whose samples were taken. If they come out positive, we will inform their home district,” he added.
He added that the health department teams deployed at shelter homes were asked to collect 30 samples on Thursday.
“Covid-19 testing is not possible for every migrant worker but health teams are carrying out body temperature checks with the help of infrared temperature monitors. We have about 1,000-1,200 staff members including bus drivers and conductors deployed in ferrying passengers but their tests have not been done so far,” said AK Singh, regional manager of UPSRTC.
Raghvendra Singh, who works as a driver and is from Banda district in Bundelkhand region of UP, raised concerns that there are no ways to check whether any of the other migrants travelling with him have the coronavirus.
“I came here Thursday morning with my wife from Ramprastha where I work as a driver. There are about 40 persons in the bus apart from 15-20 children with their parents. So there is hardly any social distancing. Officials at the (Ramlila) ground merely checked our temperature and told us to board the bus. This will not help in case someone is infected. On my part, I spent Rs 500 to buy a hand sanitizer and a face mask for me and my wife,” he said.
Shiv Nath, from Gorakhpur, reached Morta in Ghaziabad from Sonipat in Haryana on Wednesday night on foot. He is travelling by bus to his home town with five other family members.
“There are thousands of migrants in the farm house (where the migrants have been housed) and all are sleeping in close spaces on the floor. Before boarding the bus, our temperature was checked. At present, we don’t if anyone is infected or not but our priority is to reach home. Once I am home, I will get myself tested,” he added.
Amit Mohan Praasad, UP’s principal secretary (health), said Thursday many migrant workers who have returned to their home towns or villages have tested positive.
“Migrants are being monitored for Covid-19. Our Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) members have contacted at least 5,42,543 migrant workers at their homes. Out of a total of 46,142 samples collected so far, 1,230 have tested positive. Monitoring is also taken up by Mohalla Nigrani Samiti and Gram Nigrani Samiti as the migrants have been asked to remain in home quarantine for 21 days,” Prasad said.
According to officials, over 20 lakh migrant workers have returned home across UP so far with the help of buses and trains. The figure includes about 15.27 lakh workers who have come home or are in the process of reaching home with the help of 1,154 trains being run by the Indian Railways.