The Kerala High Court on Monday held that the state has been doing everything possible to ensure the return of Malayalees from other states. The division bench said that the present situation cannot be interfered with and no new order is required.
The observation has come while Division Bench comprising Justices Anu Sivaraman and MR Anitha heard a voluntary plea to monitor the Covid-19 situation across the state and another petition urging that the court take action if Malayalees are being stuck at checkposts.
The government informed the court that all those who were stranded at Valayar have been deported and that all facilities have been prepared at the checkpost. Earlier, the Congress had demonstrated at Valayar checkpost demanding entry of all Malayalees without a pass.
All the entry points to the state are being thoroughly monitored. As a first step, people who reach the checkposts are being checked by the police. If the passenger has a pass, they can proceed to the centre where the body temperature is being checked. If a person has any symptoms of COVID-19, then they are being shifted to the hospitals. Others are allowed to travel to their home. People who can quarantine at home are allowed to go home; otherwise, they would be accommodated at the quarantine centres set up by the government. Those who reach home will receive directions from officials of the Panchayat and Primary Health Centres.
The opposition parties in Kerala, Congress and BJP, have been demanding that entry should be allowed for all. The health professionals, however, pointed to the danger of allowing everyone without proper checkups amid the outbreak.
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Anish Ettavelil, who has been working in Bengaluru for the last 15 years, left for his home along with his wife and their kids on May 11. He said: “When we reach the checkpost at the Kerala Border, there are police personnel giving instructions to the passengers. They point to a spot where we can park our vehicles and we all have to get off the vehicle. While stepping out, we all have to wear masks. If we are not carrying masks, the police personnel provide those. After that, there are handwashing corners and again we have to sanitise hands before entering the health department’s checking spot. From there, they measure the body temperature and ensure that the passenger does not have any symptoms of Covid-19.”
“Next to the health desk, there is a help desk. The officials who are at the help desk note the details of the passengers. The next desk is the motor vehicle department. After noting down the details of vehicles, they give us a slip. All this is done in 20 minutes and from there, the vehicles are being directed to the depot of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation and there, each vehicle is being sanitised properly.”
Airport model screening for Covid-19 planned at three railway stations
With the Indian Railways all set to commence train services partially from Tuesday to help those stranded at various places, the Kerala government plans to put in place an airport-model COVID-19 screening at three railway stations, where trains will halt. The stops are Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram railway stations.
State minister V S Sunil Kumar said symptomatic passengers would be shifted to hospitals from the stations and others would be transported to their home districts in specially arranged Kerala State Road Transport (KSRTC) buses. "These special trains will have only three stops in Kerala--Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. The Railways will provide us with the full address details of the passengers. We will segregate them according to their respective districts and finalise the list of people alighting at the three stations. Those who reach the state will be screened and tested for symptoms," Sunil Kumar told PTI.
As per central government guidelines, Railways has to ensure that all passengers are compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board the trains. Passengers would be provided with hand sanitisers at entry and exit points at stations and in coaches and all of them would have to wear face masks. On arrival at their destinations here, they would have to adhere to the state's health protocols, he said.
The minister said counters like those at the airports to screen passengers would be in place at the three stations. "We will open separate counters like we have done in the airports. We expect at least 1,400 people in each train and they will alight at three different stations. The final plan will be made by Wednesday evening," he added. The passengers would be subjected to thermal screening at the railway stations. A passenger having high temperature would be segregated and sent to the hospital for a formal check-up. Kumar said, "Those who are symptomatic will be sent to hospital. Non-symptomatic persons will be allowed to board KSRTC buses, taken to their districts and home quarantined."
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Various departments and the local self government institutions will enquire whether the passenger has facilities at their residences to go into home quarantine and if not, they would be shifted to institutional quarantine. "We will also inquire whether the person has a facility to stay under home quarantine.
For home quarantine, we will enquire whether the house has a bath-attached room, whether it is possible for the person to stay alone in the room and if there is anyone above the age of 60 years in that house. If not, we will arrange institutional quarantine. Paid quarantine is also available," he said. There was no need for any relatives or friends to reach the station to pick the passengers as the state government has arranged transportation facility by KSRTC buses.
(With Inputs from PTI)