Border tabs on coronavirus
The Bengal government has deployed paramedics at two principal points to enter the state from Nepal as part of a precaution to prevent spread of coronavirus that claimed dozens of lives in China. The Sikkim government also beefed up the surveillance on its border with Bengal.
“We are on alert and the state government has posted paramedics at a screening camp set up at Panitanki. In case any person, who is entering from Nepal is found to be have symptoms of coronavirus infection, he or she would be screened and if required, would be sent to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (in Siliguri),” said an officer of the Sashastra Seema Bal, the paramilitary force that guards the international borders of India with Nepal and Bhutan.
In north Bengal, there are two entry points between India and Nepal. The most popular route is Panitanki (35km from Siliguri) and the other entry point is Pashupati, near Mirik, where also health workers check people for possible coronavirus symptoms.
Pralay Acharya, the chief medical officer of health, Darjeeling, said the medical teams checked every person from Nepal at the entry points. “The NBMCH has an isolation ward for inflectional diseases. Six beds have been kept ready for treatment of any patient suspected to be infected with the virus,” he added.
NBMCH superintendent Kaushik Samajdar said five ventilators had been requisitioned from the state health department.
The health workers at all the entry points are provided with masks so that they don’t contract the virus.
In Sikkim, the surveillance is being carried out at Rangpo and Melli, the two main entry points to the state from Bengal. The screening was taken up on the basis of an advisory of the Union health ministry, said sources.
On Monday, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan had chaired a video-conference with the chief secretaries and police chiefs of the five states bordering Nepal to review their preparedness for the prevention of the virus.
The states are Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal.
“We have posted medical teams at Rangpo and Melli check-posts where all people travelling from affected countries will be checked and tested,” said Pemba Bhutia, the director general-cum-secretary of the Sikkim health department.
Bhutia said if a person was detected with the dreaded virus, he or she would be put on an ambulance and taken to the old Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital in Gangtok.
“There is a dedicated isolation ward at the old STNM Hospital. If need be, we will also be using the 20-bedded quarantined ward at the hospital to treat the patients,” he added.