Call for temporary halt on allowing returnees into Bordumsa and Miao as Covid-19 cases rise

[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Jun 12: With the number of Covid-19 positive cases reaching 55 in Changlang district, there are calls for a temporary halt on allowing returnees home to Bordumsa and Miao subdivisions.
Though the administration maintains that it has enough facilities, the surging numbers of people coming home, mostly from the Chakma community, have put pressure on those working on the ground.
Till the filing of this report, 34 cases were reported from Diyun in Bordumsa subdivision.
As on 12 June, a total of 1923 people returned home via the Namchick check gate, which is one of entry gates to the district.
Some from the Chakma community had registered with the state government for return, but according to statistics available with the state’s Covid-19 control room, some 50 percent of those who returned had not registered their names.
With travelling permitted across India, one is no longer required to register their names with the state government, but there is no SOP in place to manage those returning. As of now, no one seems to have an idea how many will return to the district, and, with unrestricted entry, how the state is prepared to cope with the number of returnees.
In Bordumsa subdivision, comprising Diyun and Bordumsa, a total of 1044 people have returned so far. In Diyun, some 600 people are currently staying in quarantine centres.
Though the exact figures of how many have finished their mandatory stay are not available, the total numbers of people who stayed or are staying in facility quarantine are 699 in Diyun and 354 in Bordumsa.
There are 41 quarantine centres in Diyun area. Government, private and community schools have been converted into quarantine centres.
An official said that it has taken a toll on the ground workers as all government employees have been engaged in Covid-19 duties.
“We are not asking that no one should be allowed to enter now, but the pressure is already too much; so if there is a halt for two weeks or so, it would ease the pressure,” the official said.
Of the 28 cases that have been reported from Diyun, 21 are returnees from Gurugram, three from Noida, one from Pune, and two from Mumbai.
In addition to the 28 existing cases, another six positive cases, all returnees, have been found in Diyun area.
Another official said that, because of the high numbers, those staying in the quarantine facilities are not getting the best possible facilities and social distancing is almost not possible, though the administration has tried its best.
The total number of quarantine centres in the district is 84, with bed capacities totalling 2378, according to statistics made available on Monday.
Changlang DC Dr Devansh Yadav said that the current capacity is for 246 people in eight Covid care centres (CCC) in the district, which will be increased. Two more CCCs are coming up.
The original bed capacity before the cases came up was 82, he said.
“Zone-wise segregation is being done and people coming from the same areas are kept together,” the DC said.
He said that the administration has set up a helpline – 85058 03803 – to provide information regarding the quarantine centres. The DC further said that on the same helpline, a mental health worker offers counselling to all those in the quarantine centres who are in stress.
Meanwhile, in Miao, several political and social activists have sought batch-wise entry of returnees.
“All wants to come home, but soon resources will be stretched beyond limit if a halt is not put,” one said.
They said that the community/badminton hall in Miao, which has been converted into a quarantine centre, should be shut down as it is without requisite facilities and is located right in the middle of the town (see pic).
“There is no scope for social distancing, unless one is inside the room 24/7,” they said.
The activists also said that there are not enough bathrooms and toilets in the quarantine centre, and that the quality of food being served to those staying in the quarantine centre should be improved.
The community hall-cum-badminton court has 48 beds, separated by plastic tarpaulins.
Miao ADC T Rumi said, “Whatever possible has been done by the administration, including food. We cannot provide fridge.”
The activists said that more quarantine centres should be set up in 4th and 5th Mile, between M’pen and Deban, if the state government intends to allow more people in.
So far 510 people have returned to Miao.
“Whenever we raise the issue of quality of food and the quarantine facilities, those at the helm of affairs put the blame on lack of fund. The state government needs to look into this,” another said.
Meanwhile, many of those who have completed their stay in institutional quarantine are reported to be stranded in Miao because of the flooded river.
The Changlang administration has set up a transit accommodation in a school in M’Pen area.
The activists further said that whoever goes to Assam, including for medical reasons, for a short duration should be tested on their return.