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40K NRIs landed in Punjab, not screened

The information came on Tuesday even as six more people tested positive for COVID19, taking the numbers of those infected to 29 in the state.

Published: 25th March 2020 12:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2020 11:43 AM   |  A+A-

Police personnel charge at a biker for flouting lockdown guidelines, imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, near Razia Sultana Fort in Bathinda, Punjab, on Tuesday | PTI

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  The  Union government has informed Punjab that some 40,000 NRIs have landed in recent weeks and is suspected to have joined the Punjab mainstream without being screened or put into quarantine. The information came on Tuesday even as six more people tested positive for COVID19, taking the numbers of those infected to 29 in the state.

“The NRIs may have put more people at risk,” the Centre’s note said. State officials said 23,000 NRIs have been traced to Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts. Jalandhar had some 13,000 of such cases, Kapurthala 4,500, Nawanshahr 3,700 and Hoshiarpur 2,000. Of them, some 10,000 came home in the last week. Most NRIs come home between December and February during the marriage season and head back around March.

However, with COVID19 raging in Europe and many of these returnees being from Italy, Germany and Spain, has left officials worried. Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu appealed to the returnees to self declare and avoid large gatherings in the wake of the pandemic threat. He also asked them to report to the nearest hospital for check-ups, lest they endanger lives. Sidhu said Punjab has approached the Centre for `150 crore grant to buy the necessary equipment to fight the pandemic. Meanwhile, a youth who returned from Dubai on March 20 was detained outside the Golden Temple for showing symptoms of the disease and referred to an Amritsar hospital.

One man infects 21 Meanwhile, of the 29 cases identified so far, 21 were infected by just one patient — Baldev Singh of Pathalwa village in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar before he died on March 18, officials said. Singh had recently come back from a trip to Italy and Germany. “He infected 14 persons of his own family, including four grandchildren and a family of three of Virk Village in Phillaur,” they said.

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