‘Screening returnees at check gates impractical’
DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 5: The High Powered Committee on COVID-19, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, on Thursday reviewed the COVID-19 management and lockdown measures in the State and decided to issue a revised SOP for returnees and travelers entering Nagaland soon.
A revised SOP for returnees and travelers, as and when issued, is imperative considering the impracticability of the latest order issued by DC Dimapur on screening returnees by roads at the entry points (check gates).
Nagaland Page visited the two roadway entry points in Dimapur Thursday evening ~ New Field Check Gate and Dillai Gate ~ and found that the latest SOP issued by the DC, Dimapur, on November 3 is vague and practicably not possible to implement.
State police manning the check gates concurred, as one cop on duty at the check gate told Nagaland Page: “Do you see the road empty at any time? It’s impractical, and impossible to ensure that every returnee gets screened on entering our State. We are trying as best as we can to follow the directives.”
The cop’s take on the feasibility of screening returnees at check gates assume significance as police personnel manning the check gates appear to have been given the task of identifying “genuine returnees” and sending them for screening by medical personnel who had set up screening booths at the check gates.
A Medical Department staff on duty at the screening booth (New Field Check Gate) told this paper that they are coordinating with the police personnel in the gate for screening of returnees. “We screen only those people that the police at the gate send to us, since they are experienced in such things,” he said.
After screening of the returnees sent by the check gate police personnel, he said, “We also let the returnees fill up the self-declaration and home quarantine forms.”
On Thursday from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m., the screening booth had screened 20 returnees, it was revealed. On the feasibility of screening returnees at check gates, he termed it a “very difficult task.”
In the absence of any technology or system to distinguish vehicles carrying returnees, the cops (just a handful of personnel) have to rely on their instincts ~ or they would have to stop each and every vehicle entering the gate which would be a gargantuan task and cause immense inconvenience.
The New Field Check Gate is the busiest entry point into Nagaland with hundreds of vehicles, autorickshaws and pedestrians using the thoroughfare round the clock. The numerous restaurants, shops selling alcohol, as well as wine shops just pass the check gates in Assam, is always seen jam-packed with Nagaland registered vehicles, particularly in the evenings and at night, on any given day. In such a scenario, screening of returnees without disrupting inter-state traffic seems a mere formality ~ at worse, farcical
Surprisingly while a screening booth manned by 2 Medical Department personnel had been set up at the New Field Check Gate, no such booth was in sight at the Dillai Gate. However, vehicles could be seen entering through both the gates without any checks.
On September 1 last, restrictions on inter-state movement was totally lifted and the State Government issued SOP for returnees entailing self declaration and registration for inbound travelers/returnees and reporting to the screening centre which were supposed to be set up at the designated points of entry.
Nagaland Page had reported that no such measures were taken at the two major check gates in Dimapur bordering Assam. Since then, while those entering the State by train or flight are being screened, there is no such regulation for those coming by road.
(Page News Service)