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Coronavirus | States told to track 15 lakh international travellers

Medics examine evacuees from Iran upon their arrival at an airport in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. File photo: PTI/@SpokespersonMoD

Medics examine evacuees from Iran upon their arrival at an airport in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. File photo: PTI/@SpokespersonMoD  

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba flags “a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored”.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked the States to effectively monitor 15 lakh international air passengers who came from January 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a “gap” between the actual monitoring that “may seriously jeopardise the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Mr. Gauba wrote a letter to Chief Secretaries that the list of such passengers as compiled by the Bureau of Immigration had been shared with all the States and Union Territories.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

“As you are aware, we initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from January 18, 2020. I have been informed that up to March 23, 2020, cumulatively, Bureau of Immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19. However, there appears to be a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored,” Mr. Gauba said in his letter.

“It is important that all international passengers are put under close surveillance to prevent the spread of the epidemic”, the letter stated

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had repeatedly emphasised the importance of monitoring, Mr. Gauba noted and requested the States and the UTs to take immediate steps in this regard.

“I would, therefore, like to request you to ensure that concerted and sustained action is taken urgently to put such passengers under surveillance immediately as per MoHFW guidelines,” he said, adding that the district authorities should be actively involved in this effort. 

The government has claimed that the screening of international incoming passengers at airports was done from January 18 in a phased manner.

Later Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, MoHFW, said, “The Cabinet Secretary wrote to State governments as part of our routine communication to ensure that no passenger is left untraced. He has requested that all international passengers be monitored and cleared for COVID-19 and that they adhere the 14 or 21 day-quarantine to ensure their and the community’s safety. This is vital to break transmission and contain the spread of the virus.”

Also read: Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi, expresses support for lockdown and offers suggestions

Advisory to States

 The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also sent an advisory to all States to take immediate steps to provide adequate support, including food and shelter to migrant labourers as lakhs marched on foot to reach their homes as the country is on a 21-day lockdown.

The States have also been advised to take steps to ensure that students, working women from other States, etc. are also allowed to continue in their existing accommodation.

The advisory asked the States to explore measures by involving various agencies, including NGOs, to provide food and shelter with basic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation etc and make these vulnerable groups aware of the measures taken by the government, including provision of free food grains and other essential items through the PDS, and streamline the distribution system. This would help prevent avoidable movement of such people, according to the advisory.

Modi’s speech, the nationwide lockdown, and what it means | The Hindu In Focus Podcast

Punya Salila Srivastava, joint secretary, MHA, said there were no plans to allow domestic flights to ferry migrants returning home.

When asked if the government was going to arrange buses for the migrants, she said, “lockdown purpose is to keep people in situ, safe and secure. States talking to employers and started making arrangements for the facilities.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 7:54:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-monitor-15-lakh-international-air-passengers-of-past-over-two-months-states-told/article31184028.ece

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