As the district administration and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) take up precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, they will now start “self-reporting forms” that will have to be filled in by tourists, mentioning their travel history. The administration has said that a doubtful case will be sent in isolation in hospitals for further screening.

The same was announced in a meeting held today at Lalkothi, the GTA headquarters, where GTA and district administration officials held discussions, along with another meeting with hoteliers, NGOs and transport syndicates. “There was a notification from the Swastha Bhawan on 25 January, and an urgent meeting was called on the 27 th where we discussed actions that need to be taken regarding coronavirus.

Meetings were also held in the district level in Kalimpong and Darjeeling among the Chief Medical Officers of Health (CMOH), police, district administration and other stakeholders in a bid to create awareness. We want to be more aggressive and make people aware on coronavirus so panic can be contained.

This will continue till the situation normalizes,” the GTA principal secretary, Surendra Gupta, said. Speaking about ‘self-reporting forms’ to be started from today onwards, Darjeeling SP Amarnath K, who also attended the meeting, said, “When a tourist checks in a hotel, s/he will have to fill up the self reporting form in which s/he will have to mention his/her travel history.

They will have to say if they visited infected areas and if they have symptoms. The hotel will have to inform the police and the CMOH if they have such suspected cases. The CMOH will put them in isolation for further screening.” He also maintained that people should not believe in rumours circulated in social media.

“If such information is given to the police, action will be taken against those spreading it,” the SP said. He added that 15 such posts have already been blocked in Facebook. “The GTA has also brought 15,000 masks, with 15,000 more ordered. They will be distributed among drivers in Kalimpong and Darjeeling.

Apart from that, it was also decided that additional screening camps in Simulbarie (in the plains near Siliguri) and Manebhanjyang (Nepal border in Darjeeling) will be started. We will also spread awareness on the virus through self help groups in rural areas, along with the GTA Information and Culture department, making people aware through drama and songs. Banners and posters regarding the virus will also be put up in the GTA area,” said Gupta.

Steps taken so far include screening camps at the Bagdogra Airport and NJP railway station in Siliguri, where till date, more than 350 foreigners have been screened with no positive cases found. Along with that, five check posts have been created in the GTA area from 26 February, which include Panitanki Bazaar, Dangujote, Okayti tea garden, Pashupati and Sepi.

According to Gupta, state and district authorities have also visited several areas to spread awareness among the public, while 263 meetings have also been held in 37 villages in the Indo-Nepal border areas where a total of 5,855 people have been screened till 9 March. Isolation wards have also been created in Darjeeling and Kalimpong district hospitals, along with the Kuresong subdivisional hospital.

Six infrared thermometers have also been procured and given to Bagdogra, Naxalbari Rural Hospital, Kharibari Rural Hospital, Mirik Block Primary Health Centre, Sukhia Pokhari Block Primary Health Centre and Bijanbari Block Primary Health centre. Gupta also maintained that reports of five suspected cases in the North Bengal Medical Hospital and College were negative.