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With over 31 lakh returnees, states witness surge in coronavirus cases

As around 31 lakh stranded labourers already reached their native states with the help of more than 2,317 sharmik special trains since May 1, many states have witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases.

With over 31 lakh returnees, states witness surge in coronavirus cases

This is the first run of a special train to Bihar to bring back migrants stranded during the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread. (Photo: PTI)

As around 31 lakh stranded labourers already reached their native states with the help of more than 2,317 sharmik special trains since May 1, many states have witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases.

Going by the last one week figures, states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and West Bengal are witnessing sudden surge in Covid-19 casess, which is a major challenge before these states in coming days.

After infamous tablighi episode, which witnessed a sudden spike in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Bihar and Assam in the first two weeks of April, now big reverse migration of present history through land and rail routes, are a new challenge for the Centre and states.

For states, arranging hundreds of camps, food and sanitation facilities, establishing quarantines centres at border areas and in villages, screening and testing of these migrants are not going be an easy task as lakhs of migrants laboures still waiting for their turns are likely to be back to the native place in the coming days. The figures are likely to increase from June 1 as Railway opened its more services with around 200 trains a day from different states.

Bihar, UP, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan are the key states, where maximum sharmik special trains are reaching since May 1. The onus is now on these states to arrange 14 days of quarantine for the travellers and their strict monitoring. They will be discharged after following the complete health SOP. With poor health infrastructure at district level, bigger challenge for these states is to follow these SOP like enhancing the surveillance and their contract tracing. Facilities and infrastructure quality of many quarantine centres are also under question.

RAILWAYS OPERATION INTENSIFIED

As per latest railway figures, total around 2,317 shramik specials have already arrived at their destination with more than 31 lakh migrants labourers. Interestingly, earlier trains were being run by railways only after concurrence is given both by the state which is sending the passengers and the state which is receiving them. Now to avoid delay, MHA is coordinating with Ministry of Railways to carry on their operation to administrative delay in permission from states.

As per the latest data, Uttar Pradesh has received maximum 1054 trains, followed by Bihar with 562 trains, Madhya Pradesh (101 trains), Jharkhand (70 trains), Rajasthan (32 trains), West Bengal (27 trains) are the major receiving states. After showing initial reluctance, West Bengal also announced to allow around 105 special shramik train for the states.

STATES FACING THE HEAT

UTTAR PRADESH

On Thursday, states witnessed biggest surge with 340 fresh cases and total number of coronavirus cases climbed to 5,515 in Uttar Pradseh.

With 2 lakh migrants coming to the state every day and areas like Banda, Barabanki, Gorakhpur, Etah, Pratapgarh, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Varansi, Firozabad seems badly affected, as most of the trains are terminating in these areas. These are just the train figures and if we check the arrival through bus since 30 April, 5,217 buses have been used to carry around 5 lakhs migrants to different districts from states like MP, Rajasthan, Haryana and others to Uttar Pradesh.

According to the figures, in just one week, the state figure went up from 4,057 to 5,515 now. The state government has urged the migrants entering the state to strictly follow home quarantine even as the “village/mohalla nigrani samitis” are keeping an eye on them. They have also been asked not to come in contact with elderly people, children and pregnant women. Around 1,350 migrants labours who arrived from different states have now tested positive till now in UP.

BIHAR

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Bihar soared to 1,987 on Thursday when 211 people tested positive for the coronavirus.
Bigger issue is that since the arrival of lakhs of migrants labouers from different states, around 1,000 of them have tested positive till now. All the 38 districts in the state have reported Covid-19 cases and Patna, Munger, Rohtas, Jehanabad and Begusarai happen to be the worst affected, all of them having respective tallies in three digits. Now other districts reporting a significant number of cases were Samastipur (25), Katihar (19), Rohtas and Gopalganj (17 each), Gopalganj (16), Sheikhpura (13) and Buxar and East Champaran (11 each).

As per state govt assessment, more than 1,500 cases have been reported in the state since the beginning of this month, which has been attributed mainly to the large-scale influx of migrants. Out of around 1000 migrants have tested positive for Covid 19, the state health department said, adding that most infected returnees have come from Delhi (296), Maharashtra (253), Gujarat (180), Haryana (66), West Bengal (58) and Rajasthan (34). More than 7 lakh migrants are currently lodged at thousands of quarantine centres set up across the state at district, block and panchayat levels. 85 special trains, carrying close to 1.40 lakh migrants, reached Bihar on a day and another 1.43 lakh are scheduled to arrive on Friday by 87 Shramik Specials.

RAJASTHAN

Rajasthan government has so far sent about two lakh migrants to their home states and brought back its 6.75 lakh workers to the state. A total of 23.98 lakh people have registered themselves online with 10.82 lakh people applying for going out of the state and 12.27 lakh for coming back from other states.

Around 6.75 lakh workers and migrants have been brought to Rajasthan, of which 2,74,283 have entered from Sirohi border, 1,23,919 from Dungarpur border, 55,043 from Chittorgarh border, 51,891 from Jalore border and the rest from other districts.

In the last one week, 1,476 new coronavirus cases have been reported and most of these cases are in border areas like Dugarpur, Jhunjhunu, Chittorgath, Bikaner, Sirohi apart from other districts. Officials in Rajasthan also said that the majority of new cases were reported from the border districts of Gujarat, from where the migrant workers have returned. Thereafter, they have decided to seal those border. As per reports around 1,200 migrants who returned from different states tested positive till now.

ODISHA:

Odisha is another state, where figures seems almost settle till the first week of May but it started showing major jump after May 10. As per the state health dept, almost 90 percent cases out of 1,189 in Odisha surge due to migrant workers return to the state via Shramik Special Trains and buses. The state had 200 positive cases of Covid-19 before migrant workers return.

As per state data, 2,14,373 migrants has returned to the state till Thursday since May 3 so far. All these fresh cases are from Ganjam (52), Balasore (33), Jajpur (7), Sundargarh (7) and Keonjhar (2). As per state report, out of the seven positive cases in Jajpur district, five returned from West Bengal, whereas two returned from Maharastra. Out of the 33 positive cases in Balasore, 24 are Surat returnees, three West Bengal returnees, two Bangalore returnees, one from containment zone and three local primary contacts. All seven positive cases in Sundergarh are primary contacts in containment zone at Rourkela. Ganjam district alone has contributed around 200 new cases in recent days, most of them migrants who arrived from Surat in Gujarat. Of 86 cases, 46 are in Jajpur district (37 from West Bengal, one Telangana, two Tamil Nadu returneees and four UAE, one Chhattisgarh and one Haryana returnee, 11 in Cuttack (10 in quarantine centres, 4 West Bengal, 3 Gujarat, 1 Tamil Nadu and 2 Telangana returnees and 1 local case). Majority of positive cases are either from Gujarat's Surat, Maharastra or West Bengal returnees.

MADHYA PRADESH

In Madhya Pradesh, around 4.82 migrants labourers reached to different districts in the state till now from May 1. Out of that, 3.38 lakh migrants came via buses and 1.44 lakh via shramik trains. Major inflow are from Gujarat (1.98 lakh), Rajasthan (1.5 lakh) and Maharashtra (10 lakhs). As per state data, 101 trains arrived in the state till now, out of that, 32 trains arrived from Maharashtra, 27 from Gujarat, 15 from Haryana, 7 from Telengana, 5 from Karnataka, 3 each from Tamil Nadu and Goa and 2 each from Kerela, Rajasthan and Delhi. Around 2,341 buses brought back around 1 lakhs migrants from different states. Though Madhya Pradesh is not providing migrants specific data, who have tested positive, but surge in district like Khandwa, Burhanpur, Dewas are the areas of concern for the states.

KARNATAKA

Karnataka continued to witness a substantial rise in infection in the last two days with 143 new cases on Thursday and 105 on Friday. If we look at the statistics, the state had reported around 848 case till May 10. Now, the state witnessed sudden jump to almost double in the last ten days and its goes up to total 1,710 cases.

According to the state health ministry, influx of migrants from Maharashtra is the reason behind this jump. According to report till Wednesday, it shows that 50 of the new cases are those who returned from Maharashtra in the last few days. The new cases confirmed include 21 from Hassan, 10 from Bidar, 8 from Mandya, 7 from Kalaburagi, 6 from Udupi, 4 each from Bengaluru Urban and Tumkur, and one each from Yadgir, Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada districts. Mandya, Kalburgi, Devengir are registering maximum number of cases in the last few days.

JHARKHAND

One-third of the 187 positive cases spread over one dozen districts have been reported in the last few days in Jharkhand. With the arrival of around 70 sharmik trains in the last few days, the numbers jumped from 157 (on May 10) to 303 now. This sudden surge caused after migrant workers began to reach their home state. Few of the migrants who recently reached districts like Garwa, Bokaro, Koderma, Palamu have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Most of these migrants are coming from Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

TOUGH DAYS AHEAD FOR STATES

With more train services set to start from June 1, a bigger challenge =lied ahead for the states to handle the mass influx. Ramping up the health infrastructure, managing quarantine centres, pool testing, contact tracing and cluster surveillance are the key challenges before these states.

As per the states and railway ministry assessment, more than 50 lakh migrants labourers are still in ques and waiting for their turn to board the trains to their states. As per Delhi government's assessment, over four lakh migrants stranded in Delhi have registered on Delhi government's website to go back to their hometowns in different states. The Delhi government has asked for 262 more trains to send these migrants to states like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Similarly, 15 lakhs migrants in Maharashtra, 15 lakhs in Punjab and 8 lakhs in Haryana, who have registered themselves in these states, are still in the que to return to their states.

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