Bihar tests, finds migrants haven't added to state tally of positive cases

Bihar tests, finds migrants haven't added to state tally of positive cases
Medical staff distribute sanitisers to policemen in Patna. (PTI)

JUST 10 days ago, when migrants started returning to their homes in Bihar in large numbers, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was concerned about the potential spread of COVID-19 in the state. But after screening about 1.8 lakh migrants, who are living either with their families or at the 3,115 quarantine centres, the state is heaving a sigh of relief that none of the migrants have tested positive so far.

According to the Bihar health department, 4,991 people have been tested so far, including about 2,000 migrants, those with overseas travel history, and also their relatives. Of those tested, 58 turned out to be COVID-19 positive, most with overseas travel history, or contact with persons who travelled abroad.

State government officials said a total of about 1.8 lakh migrants returned to Bihar from Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh before and during the lockdown. Of this, almost one lakh migrants got back to their families, and are now nearing completion of their 14-day quarantine at home. Their first-level screening happened first at inter-state borders, and later in their respective districts.

“We first screened 27,300 migrants living at 3,115 quarantine centres at schools or panchayat buildings. In the second phase, we screened over 55,000 people having returned from ‘hotspot’ states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Delhi. Our doctors assessed that less than one per cent in both the phases were symptomatic cases,” Bihar Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar told The Indian Express.

“But most of those who tested Covid-19 positive are people who travelled to Middle East countries or have Tablighi Jamaat connection,” Kumar said.

Bihar Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit said it was “a very happy sign that we have so far no positive case from migrants despite their vulnerability” as they crossed inter-state and Indo-Nepal borders till the national lockdown was announced. “We hope we do not get any positive case from the migrants in further tests,” he said.

Amrit said all the 20 positive cases from Siwan are persons with overseas travel or contact with persons who had a travel history. “Four positive cases from Begusarai are possibly because of two Tablighi groups which travelled through some parts of the district. We have sealed some mosques to prevent any further spread in Begusarai,” he said.

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