Migrants returning to Manipur from various parts of the country and abroad who fail to undergo mandatory quarantine will be arrested and put in jail, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said, as the northeastern state logged over two dozen COVID-19 cases in a little over a month of being declared coronavirus-free.
The chief minister said those found violating the COVID-19 protocol will be prosecuted under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005. "This is a very serious issue. Returnees flouting the protocol will be arrested and put in jail," Singh told reporters on Friday. He said the returnees testing negative for novel coronavirus will be allowed to be home quarantined.
"Our primary task is to prevent community spread of the disease," the chief minister said. However, those facing inconvenience during home quarantine will be accommodated at community quarantine centres, he said. Urging people not to panic over the recent rise in the number of active cases to 25, Singh said his government is fully prepared to handle the situation.
He said 200-300 samples are being tested every day at laboratories in state-run Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal (RIMS) and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Imphal, hospitals and 700-800 samples are being collected daily.
Manipur was declared COVID-19 free on April 19 by Biren Singh himself after two earlier positive patients recovered following treatment in hospitals.
However, with the nationwide lockdown being extended continuously ever since it was imposed on March 25, several stranded Manipuris, including students, working professional and those who went for medical treatments, battling financial hardship during shutdown, made a passionate appeal to the state government to allow them to come home.
Accordingly, to facilitate the movement and assist those stranded passengers financially and obtain e-passes, the state government set up a web portal tengbang.in. The state government successfully brought the first batch of stranded Manipuris numbering 87 from Guwahati by bus on May 2 via NH 2 which passes through Nagaland.
While the first specially arranged Shramik special train reached the state on May 13 from Chennai which brought 1140 passengers. The state, after three weeks of being COVID-19 free, saw the emergence of a new coronavirus case after a 33-year-old Mumbai returnee, who had come back in a hired vehicle on May 13, and was quarantined at Khabeisoi area in Imphal East district, tested positive.
He had gone to Mumbai for treatment of his father suffering from cancer. His mother during their stay at Mumbai had died due to the deadly virus. The active case began to rise from zero to four within a span of 48 hours with one particular 22-year-old woman, a Chennai returnee, who was quarantined at a community centre in Churachandpur district testing positive on May 16.
On May 19, a mother-daughter duo who had returned from Delhi via road with 20 co-passengers had also tested positive. They had gone to the national capital for eye operation at AIIMS and stayed at a rental place at Kotla Mubarakpur in the national capital. However, the highest single number hike of positive cases was reported on May 20 when 16 people, six males and ten females, quarantined at different places of Churachandpur district tested positive.
Of the 16, fourteen were part of the stranded passengers brought from Chennai and the other two had recently returned from Guwahati and Delhi in private. Among the Chennai returnees found infected, included is a mother and her 23 days old infant son. As per the latest count, Manipur has logged a total of 27 coronavirus cases out of which two have recovered.
Ever since evacuation of stranded Manipuris by Shramik trains began from May 10 last, at least eight trains ferrying more than 6000 stranded state natives have arrived from Punjab, Bengaluru, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Uttarakhand to Jiribam Railway Station, the only station of the state and a major entry point to the landlocked state.
On the other hand, around 2000 stuck Manipuris have entered through the another major entry point at Mao Gate bordering Nagaland on their own by hiring private vehicles. So far more than 40,000 have registered themselves with tengbang.in portal for return to the state.