Vikash Sharma

Cuttack: Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the Odisha government to allow returnees to the State only if they test negative for COVID-19. The Court came up with such directive while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Narayan Chandra Jena.

As per the order, Orissa High Court has asked the State government to ensure that RT PCR test is conducted for those intending to return to Odisha. The tests should be conducted in the respective States from where people intend to return to Odisha. The returnees will only be allowed to enter Odisha if their test reports come negative for COVID-19, the directive read.

The directive assumes significance as the returnees were being released by other States only after a health screening.

“In the petition I had expressed apprehension regarding the steep rise in COVID-19 cases after the return of migrants to Odisha. The HC has directed the State government to ensure that RT-PCR test of people intending to return to Odisha is conducted and only those who test negative for COVID-19 should be allowed after prior registration,” said the petitioner.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha witnessed a steep increase in COVID19 positive cases and most of them are linked to people who returned from places like Surat, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Odisha today reported 24 COVID-19 cases including 17 from Ganjam, four from Mayurbhanj, two from Balasore & 1 from Jagatsinghpur districts.

So far around 40,000 people have returned from different States in the country to Odisha.

“So far, around 27000 people have returned to Ganjam from other States in 12 trains and 283 buses. There is no concrete information on how many more will come. Anyone found visiting quarantine centre will be forcibly quarantined or legal action will be taken,”said Ganjam Collector Vijay Kulange today.