COVID-19 testing of road, rail travelers into Kashmir intensified following LG's directions

A Kashmir bound train passenger being tested for COVID-19 at Railway Station Banihal on Monday April 19, 2021. The move comes hours after directions by LG, Manoj Sinha directing compulsory testing of all passengers into J&K in a bid to monitor the virus transmission chain. Mohammad Taskeen/GK

Following directions by the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha last evening, authorities on Monday intensified COVID-19 testing of Kashmir bound travelers on the Jammu-Srinagar highway with officials saying the test was being made mandatory for the train bound passengers and a prerequisite for travelling into the valley at the Banihal railway station in Ramban district.

LG Sinha while issuing a new set of guidelines last evening in a bid to contain the disease spread, also directed for a compulsory COVID-19 test for the road, rail and air bound travelers while asking the concerned deputy commissioners to put in place the required mechanism.

Following the directions, district administration Ramban intensified the testing of passengers at Nashri, Jawahar Tunnel and Railway Station Banihal in a bid to monitor the chain of transmission.

“Health teams, with active support from Police Dept, testing people vigorously at Nashri & Jawahar Tunnel and Railway Station, Banihal. Urge people to stay indoors and strictly adhere to Covid SoPs,” district administration Ramban wrote on its Twitter handle.

At Railway Station Banihal, police took to loudspeakers asking the Kashmir bound passengers to undergo the test saying they will be allowed to board the train only after producing a negative report for the virus.

Although the railway authorities or concerned district administrations in Ramban or those along the highway district have not issued the official orders in this regard yet, the testing is being intensified on the ground following the LG’s directions, officials told Greater Kashmir.

Block Medical Officer Banihal, Dr Rabiya Khan said that COVID-19 testing of the passengers travelling by road and train has been intensified at the two testing centres set up at Shaitani Nallah and Railway Station Banihal.

The BMO further informed that from April 5-18, a total of 795 samples of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests and 463 of RATs (Random Antigen Tests) had been taken from the rail bound passengers at Railway Station Banihal while as a total of 818 RAT tests had been done on as many passengers travelling on the highway at Shaitani Nallah.

Of these, 14 tests have returned COVID-19 positive, Dr Rabiya said.

Sub-inspector A G Dar deployed at Railway Station Banihal told Greater Kashmir that they had received directions from district administration Ramban to make the testing mandatory at the railway station and allow only those passengers producing COVID-19 negative reports to board the train for Kashmir.

The passengers testing positive for the virus are being referred to the tehsil administration Banihal for further procedure, Dar said.