With thousands of stranded people returning home to Jammu and Kashmir, authorities in the union territory have started 100 per cent testing of returnees upon their arrival.
At the railway station in Jammu where people are coming on special trains, COVID-19 tests are being aggressively carried out before passengers are sent to their respective districts.
"At Jammu Tawi railway station, this rail service started from May 14. As soon as rail arrives, our 20 sampling kiosks are doing 100 per cent sampling of all alighting passengers at the platform itself. After testing, a database of the passengers is being prepared and then they are sent to different districts in a regulated manner," said Sushma Chauhan, Deputy Commissioner Jammu.
Most of the people returning are from the Kashmir valley. At Srinagar's Tourist Reception Centre, officials are working 24x7 to receive passengers and subsequently taking them to quarantine facilities. In the last one week, officials say about 8,000 people have arrived in Srinagar district and 125 hotels have been acquired by the administration for their stay. Most of them are located along the Dal lake.
"People are coming by road and by air. Since yesterday, we have handled around 2,000 people. The line is very huge. We have got 125 hotels which are functioning as quarantine centres. We do 100 per cent sampling whosoever arrives. As soon as test report come, we discharge them," said Syed Hanief Balkhi, Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar.
The return of stranded people has also led to spike in COVID-19 cases in the Valley. In last three days, more than 280 cases have been reported in Jammu and Kashmir. Officials say many of them have travel history. Since yesterday, 67 policemen and five doctors have also been tested positive for coronavirus.
Officials admit that handling the rush of returning people is a huge challenge for the administration as thousands of people stranded in and outside country are still waiting for their return. Besides making arrangements for their stay, officials say 100 per cent testing has been made mandatory upon the arrival in Jammu and Kashmir.