Returning migrants to be tested for Covid in centres at Delhi’s borders
The move comes at a time when the daily reported cases have come down in the national capital, while they have gone up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- the two states from where the maximum number of migrants are trickling into Delhi.Updated: Aug 15, 2020 05:47 IST
The Delhi government has set up a rapid antigen test centre at the interstate bus terminal (ISBT) in Anand Vihar in light of migrant workers returning to the capital with the slow revival of the economy and gradual lifting of curbs that were imposed to arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The move comes at a time when the daily reported cases have come down in the national capital, while they have gone up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- the two states from where the maximum number of migrants are trickling into Delhi.
Delhi recorded 1,192 fresh Covid-19 cases on Friday, against 3,947 – the highest single day spike in the capital – on June 23. Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, recorded 4,512 fresh covid cases on Friday against 605 recorded on June 23. Bihar recorded 3,906 fresh Covid cases on Friday against 206 on June 23.
The rapid antigen test centre was set up on Thursday, said a senior official of the Delhi government. He said till Friday evening, around 450 people were tested at the centre and only six were fund to be Covid-19 positive.
Although the interstate road transport is yet to be allowed, many are reaching Delhi by walking across the border lines that Delhi shares with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. “In the next two weeks, the government will set up several such test centres at crucial locations in the city’s border areas. Revenue district officials have been entrusted with identifying such locations,” the official said.
Millions of migrant workers had left Delhi in the days following the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 to arrest the spread of Covid-19. The state government had also set up thousands of centres to provide food and shelter to migrant workers who lost their livelihoods until arrangements were made to send them back to their villages on trains and buses. Thousands of them also set off on arduous journeys back home, covering hundreds of miles, by foot.
“Since mid-July, we have seen a large number of workers returning to the city. While it is easier to keep a tab on those arriving by trains, it is difficult to track those coming by foot,” said another senior government official, on condition of anonymity.
Currently, interstate road transport is prohibited under the lockdown norms drafted by the central government. But, road transport within states is allowed.The second official said most of the migrants take buses from their respective districts and arrive at Kaushambi – a township in Ghaziabad, on the Uttar Pradesh side of the border. From there, they walk to Anand Vihar, covering a distance of about 4km by foot.
From Anand Vihar, which is in Delhi, they take local buses and go to other areas within the national capital, the official quoted above said.
He further said most individuals who have so far been tested at the Anand Vihar centre are factory workers, construction workers, and self-employed people such as plumbers, electricians, painters, and carpenters, among others. Several of them have also crossed from Bihar to Uttar Pradesh in a similar fashion, before reaching Delhi eventually, the official said.