Monday, 30th October 2017

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Fever lock on India-Nepal border

The decision was taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection and protect Siliguri

By Our Correspondent in Siliguri
  • Published 22.03.20, 1:18 AM
  • Updated 22.03.20, 1:18 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Gautam Deb at Panitanki near the Nepal border on Saturday. Picture by Passang Yolmo

Over 170 residents of Nepal who had reached the border located around 35km from here were sent back to their country on Saturday as they had fever with cough and cold.

The decision, sources said, was taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection and protect Siliguri.

Every day, around 5,000 people from Nepal cross the border along the Mechi river bridge from Kakarvitta and enter India.

“They have been sent back as the on-duty health workers posted on our side found that they have high temperature and some other symptoms. We are taking all possible steps to curb the infection. Also, in Kakarvitta, a similar screening is being conducted by the authorities of Nepal,” said state tourism minister Gautam Deb, who visited the border on Saturday to take stock of the situation.

Ever since cases of coronavirus have been reported in India and in the neighbouring countries, the minister has been visiting the international borders to check whether proper screening of entrants are being carried out.

After visiting the border, Deb held talks with officials of the health department, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) that guards the border and with police officers.

“Not a single person should be allowed to enter without health screening,” the minister said.

Siliguri, which is considered the gateway to the Northeast, has Nepal and Bangladesh borders close to it. Also, the Bhutan and China borders are located around 200km and 180km apart.

Further, it shares border with the neighbouring states of Bihar and the Assam border is around 200km away.

“The geographical location of Siliguri makes it vulnerable during this type of situations. Every day, thousands of people from different states and the neighbouring countries enter the city. We have information that some residents of the city who had travelled abroad had expressed reluctance to follow the directives of state and central governments. They should act responsibly or else steps would be taken against them as per law. We can’t afford to let them act lackadaisical,” the minister said.

Shop closure

Members of eight trade bodies based in Siliguri announced on Saturday that they would keep their shops and establishments close on Monday and Tuesday. “It would be done to prevent coronavirus from spreading,” said a trader.