It is not business as usual at inter-State border in Anaikatti

The long road snaking through hills with dried shrubs to Anaikatti and Mannarkad in Kerala is free of the usual movement of vehicles.

It has been so for over a week now, ever since the governments on both sides of the border (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) started taking preventive measures and creating awareness among commuters to contain the spread of COVID-19, says M. Senthilkumar, a taxi diver who carry people from border habitations in Kerala to Coimbatore city.

“Usually we, the drivers in the stand at the border, go on two or three trips each a day. But in the last few days we have not moved out.”

Even the calls the drivers get from resort managements to take their customers to Coimbatore have dried up as the resorts are closed, says R. Nataraj, another driver.

“The only trips we have made are from our houses to the stand in the mornings and back to houses in the evenings.” There are more than 15 vehicles in the area, near the check post, that take people to various parts of Coimbatore – for shopping to Cross Cut Road and Oppanakara Street, for vegetables to T.K. Market and for machinery and spare parts purchase to Kattoor.

Mr. Nataraj says the drivers there have also seen the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation cut a few bus services as a precautionary measure. The fewer movement of people across the border is impact business for shopkeepers in Anaikatti. “I’m seeing a drop of almost 75% commuters. The impact of the reduction is that I’m seeing poor business – it is down by almost 50% in the last few days,” says T. Krishnasamy, a shopkeeper.

Buses to Anaikatti from Coimbatore are seeing fewer commuters, says G. Raja Pandian, a conductor with a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus. “From around ₹ 13,000 a day, my collection has come down to ₹ 8,000.”

Across the border, a Kerala medical team from the Anaikatti Primary Health Centre led by Medical Officer V.C. Jayakumar is screening passengers who cross the border. “After noting down vehicle numbers and names, the team asks the passengers about their travel history or contact with persons who have returned from abroad. If they say yes or show symptoms of fever, the team takes down their address and phone number to relay to the Government Tribal Speciality Hospital at Kottathara.” Or through senior officials pass on the details to the health department staff to various districts for follow-up action.

Back in Tamil Nadu, a mobile medical team led by Medical Officer S. Bhageerathi from the Dhaliyur Block Primary Health Centre has been camping in Anaikatti to check people going to Kerala and entering Tamil Nadu.

The team has an employee of the local panchayat who sprays disinfectants on vehicles going in both the directions. It also has Health Inspector Vigneshwaran who seeks details of travel history from people crossing the border.

The team also enters buses to educate people on preventive measures like hand washing techniques.

Dr. Bhageerathi says the 24-hour camp records vehicle numbers, names, etc. of people in all private vehicles. In cases where people show symptoms of fever, she checks them using a hand-held thermal scanner.

During the past week, the cooperation from the passengers has improved as they come forward with answers and cooperate to checking.

Mr. Vigneshwaran says the team does not exempt even two-wheeler riders who move across the border. “We can make out if someone on a two-wheeler is a local resident or commuter or not. The size of the bag he or she carries is a give away.”

And, thus far, the team has not come across anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19, the doctor adds.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 5:08:33 AM |

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