50-bedded quarantine centre; screening post set up on Srinagar-Leh NH in Kargil

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With the strategically important 434-km Srinagar-Leh National Highway set to reopen later this month, authorities in this border district have set up a 50-bedded quarantine centre and a full-fledged screening post to counter the spread of Coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.

The quarantine centre has come up at Tourist Dak Bungalow at Drass, while the screening post with trained medical staff consisting of doctors and paramedics was made functional at Meenamarg on the highway, the official said.

The highway, considered as a lifeline for Ladakh, was closed for vehicular traffic in December last year for winter but was cleared of snow in a record time by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which was expecting its reopening by March end.

However, the administration decided against allowing the movement of traffic ahead of schedule due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ladakh on Thursday recorded another coronavirus positive case — first in over a fortnight, taking the total number of cases in the region to 14. Three patients have fully recovered from the infection.

Besides Meenamarg, three other checkpoints have also been established at Khangral, Sanjak and Garkone to carry out the necessary screening of the pilgrims returning from Iran as well as locals and non-locals coming from Jammu, Srinagar, Delhi and other parts of the country entering the district from Leh, the official said.

He said the district administration is committed to contain the spread of the deadly virus and a series of preventive measures including the establishment of entry points for necessary screening of travellers and ensuring quarantine and isolation facilities have been taken in addition to the complete lockdown.

In the first instance, a 130 bed capacity quarantine centre and a 26-bedded isolation centre were set up at Government Polytechnic College and GNM Nursing School Kurbathang to carry out the timely quarantine and surveillance of the suspected cases,” the official said.

“Apart from these two locations, steps for establishment of additional quarantine centres have been taken in all medical blocks of the district and other private locations like hotels and resorts and with the result there are presently 21 quarantine locations with a capacity of 786 beds,” the official added.

To ensure round the clock provision of all medicare and other related facilities at the quarantine and isolation facilities and strict screening of travellers at the entry points, 25 medical teams comprising of well trained doctors and paramedical staff have been deployed at the 21 designated quarantine locations and isolation ward as well as the entry points at Khangral, Sanjak, Garkone and Meenamarg.

Presently, he said there are 137 people in these quarantine facilities, all stable and asymptomatic while eight patients are in the isolation ward.

Out of these eight, two are positive cases who are stable and recovering well, he said, adding that 457 individuals are under home surveillance, all of whom are stable and asymptomatic, while 57 patients have completed their quarantine period.

The number of total domestic travellers screened so far stands at 5166, he said.