Monday, 30th October 2017

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Corona alert at north Bengal border

Scan on those entering from Bhutan, Bangladesh; isolation wards at hospitals

By TT Bureau in Siliguri
  • Published 7.03.20, 1:44 AM
  • Updated 7.03.20, 1:44 AM
  • 2 mins read
Passengers entering Bhutan being screened at Phuentsholing on Friday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury

The Bengal government has rung the alert across north Bengal to prevent a coronavirus outbreak and has also instructed officials working in different districts to keep a tab at the international and interstate borders.

North Bengal shares borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

“We are on alert and working in association with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). Round-the-clock monitoring is being done at the India-Nepal border and particularly at the entry points,” said Deepap Priya P, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.

Every day, thousands of Nepalese and Indians cross the borders at Panitanki and Pashupati, both located in the district.

At the Bhutan border in Jaigaon, health employees with screening devices have been engaged by the Bhutan government at the gate in Phuentsholing. They are checking every vehicle and each person entering the country from India. “From Saturday, we will start screening all those entering India from Bhutan. Also, the AYUSH hospital at Tapshikhata (in Alipurduar district) has been vacated and arrangements have been made to admit suspected patients,” said Subarna Ghoswami, the deputy CMOH of Alipurduar.

In Malda, Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur and Cooch Behar, health employees have been deputed at the India-Bangladesh borders to keep a watch on the entrants.

“At the borders, it has been made clear that any person entering from Bangladesh should fill up a form and furnish details like his recent travel destinations, whether he is having any health problems and if so, the symptoms and also his further travel plans with his address. This would help us to zero down on any suspected coronavirus patient. Added to it, screening is going on at the borders in Hilli, Changrabandha and Fulbari,” said a senior health official in Siliguri.

Like NBMCH, an isolation ward has been readied at Malda Medical College and Hospital, said sources.

Tourism minister Gautam Deb, who is keeping a watch on the situation, said no restriction has been imposed on the movement of tourists or people in general in Bengal so far, unlike the neighbouring state of Sikkim. “We are taking all preventive measures and the chief minister herself is monitoring the situation. But so far no restriction has been imposed on the entry of people from other states or abroad. In north Bengal, screening is being done at the borders and at transit points like Bagdogra airport,” said Deb.

Though not a single case of the infection has been reported in Bengal so far, the demand for alcohol-based hand sanitisers and masks is on the rise in some areas of north Bengal.

In Malda, the N95 mask is not available and it is only the three-layered masks which are being sold from shops.