The Bihar government is bracing itself for a possible strain on health infrastructure in the state ahead of the arrival of four special trains carrying Bihar residents from the Mumbai-Pune region.
Several thousands of people, most of whom are students, are expected to disembark at various stations in the Patna, Ara and Buxar areas over Sunday and Monday and will need to be screened for infection by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Maharashtra is the state worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak in the country, with 52 reported cases.
"We have made all arrangements after Railways informed us that over 5,000 students are returning in four batches - two trains are coming tomorrow and two on Monday. Hundred percent documentation and screening will take place at Buxar, Arrah and Danapur stations," Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary of the Health Department, has said.
"If anyone has any symptoms then they will be quarantined and the remainder will be allowed to go home," he added.
The East Central Railway had asked the Bihar government for help in screening the passengers.
According to the Union Health Ministry, Bihar has yet to report a confirmed COVID-19 case. Neighbouring states Uttar Pradesh and Bengal have reported 24 and two, respectively.
Across India over 300 cases of the highly infectious coronavirus have been reported, with at least four deaths linked to the virus.
The government has responded by shutting down international borders and suspending all incoming flights from abroad for a week, starting Sunday. State governments have shut down public spaces like malls and cinemas. Some states have also imposed Section 144 - to ban large gatherings.
Indian Railways, which today said 12 COVID-19 positive passengers who had travelled between March 13 and March 16 had been traced, has cancelled passenger trains starting midnight on Saturday to 10 pm on Sunday, "keeping in view that demand for train travel will be reduced during the "janata (pubic) curfew" called for by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday night.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year. Worldwide more than 2.5 lakh people have been infected and the death toll is nearing 10,000, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).