By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 11 Sep: The Uttarakhand Government has issued new directions restricting entry of people into the state if they don’t possess negative Corona test reports issued not earlier than the past 96 hours from the time of travel.
Two days ago, it was the District Administration of Dehradun that had issued such orders, restricting entry of people into the district if they did not possess negative Corona test reports. The fresh orders by the state government issued on Friday under the signatures of Chief Secretary Om Prakash are certainly not in tune with the unlock guidelines issued for the month of September by the Centre, which had directed no constraint on movement of people and goods between the districts or the states.
The fresh order, however, provides for on the spot Corona testing at the passengers’ cost at the state’s borders, if the people coming into the state do not already have a negative report. Those possessing a negative test report issued not earlier than 96 hours from the time of travel would be exempt from home or institutional quarantine, as per the orders issued by the Chief Secretary. While the rising number of corona cases every day remains a matter of grave concern and does call for some strict measures, it is a fact that the maximum number of cases coming up in the past one month have no travel history, which means that the pandemic is spreading locally now and, therefore, there is a question mark over the utility and effectiveness of the restrictions enforced by the state government.
Many of the people coming to the state are poor workers who work as daily wage earners on a seasonal basis in construction and agriculture sectors. They come here looking for work and are bound to find it tough to pay for the Corona testing that is being carried out now at the borders. This will directly affect both these sectors. Sources claim that crowds at the borders at various places such as Asharodhi Checkpost are already swelling. The crowds have been here over several days when similar restrictions were enforced in Dehradun district. With the state government orders also coming into force with effect from Friday, more crowds are expected. Those reaching the borders without having a negative Covid test report of within the past 96 hours and without having uploaded it on the Smartcity E-pass portal, would have to undergo mandatory Covid testing at the borders at their own cost. The fact is that the test report is not immediately available and, therefore, they would have to wait long for the test reports before being allowed entry into the state. The question is whether the state has made adequate accommodation arrangements for their stay with necessary facilities while waiting for the test reports.
According to the orders issued by the Chief Secretary, if such inbound people are found positive in tests, it would be the responsibility of the District Authorities concerned, in coordination with the Health authorities, to follow protocols as laid down by Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the State Government.
In case the inbound passengers are found Covid negative, they will be allowed entry into the state but will be required to follow all protocols like social distancing, wearing masks, etc. In case they later on develop symptoms, then they will have to immediately contact the health and district officials and shall report to the nearestgovernment medical facilities.
It may further be recalled that the total number of Corona infections in the state has crossed the figure of 29,000 and Dehradun remains the most affected district for the past ten days. More than a thousand fresh cases are being reported now in the state and more than 250 cases in Dehradun every day.