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Govt augments testing system
Entry points in state reopen today after a week
SHILLONG: The state Health department has put an augmented double-check system in place to tackle the new entrants to the state, as the week-long closure of all entry points ended on Friday midnight. Although the officials do not fear escalation in active cases, nothing is being left to chances.
Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong said, “We will not be at risk if there are positive cases from the returnees as we follow safety protocol when they enter, we test them, maintain social distancing, transportation is arranged and they will be taken to Polo for testing. We send them for institutional quarantine and after they get the RT-PCR report, if they are negative they can go home for quarantine”.
Asked whether the government was expecting further rise in COVID-19 cases with reopening of entry points, Tynsong told reporters on Friday, “If you talk about positive cases as seen in the records, with the exception of the wedding party most of the cases were from the returnees and next is the armed forces”.
In any case, the government was not anticipating too many people would enter the state at the moment, but those desiring to come back to Shillong would be tested at Polo where the department has ramped up its capacities.
The five entry points in the state including at Byrnihat, Ratacherra, Bajengdoba, Tikrikilla, Mir Jumla and Hallidayganj were closed down for a week starting midnight of July 23 till July 31 to unburden the frontline workers.
However, these entry points were open for emergency services, essential commodities and transit movement of vehicles coming or going to Assam.
A tent has been set up at Polo Ground to facilitate the registration and testing of returnees with separate counters that will cater to specific returnees.
The counters were that of senior citizens and family, Indian returnees and foreign returnees & paid quarantines. Outside the tent, a tariff chart for paid quarantine is displayed for those foreign and Indian returnees
who wish to opt for the facility.
A staff stationed at the centre in Polo told The Shillong Times that necessary precautionary measures are in place. To ensure protection, a transparent plastic separates the returnees and the staff at the centre.
“Health protocols are in check as the foreign and Indian returnees are all suspects”, the staff said, showing forms to be filled by the returnees such as details of returnees and drivers, details of foreign returnees and drivers, details of families and drivers. Food is provided free of cost to the returnees.
People, mostly primary or secondary contact of positive patients, were seen queuing up at the Polo testing centre on Friday. There was a rush but people adhered to health protocols.
The state government closed down the entry points on July 23 till July 31 midnight preventing the returnees from coming to the state as there is a spike in the cases recently which prompted the state government to re-impose lockdown.
“From tomorrow (August 1), the returnees are allowed to return to the state and when they come, they have to apply online and the information provided should be well in advance and the protocols will be followed as usual. They are to enter from the entry point where they will be checked at entry point and come to Polo where they will undergo Antigen test. They will be sent to institutional quarantine. At the institutional quarantine, they will collect the RTPCR sample for testing”, Tynsong said.
If the report is negative, they are asked to go for home quarantine or community quarantine. Inter-state movement is still not allowed.
Again, he said that the returnees are to be retested, even if they possess a doctor’s certificate from any part of India and when they land in Meghalaya they have to start from a scratch.