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In the wake of threat posed by COVID-19 across the globe, the Meghalaya government on March 17 appealed to all domestic and foreign travellers visiting the state to mandatorily report to the office of the deputy commissioner through 108 toll free helpline.

“All such travellers are also advised to maintain social distancing and self quarantine at home for 14 days and call for 108 for any assistance from the health department and other state agencies,” Commissioner and Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, P Sampath Kumar told reporters.

He also informed that in the last few days, many people, especially students, who have returned to the state from the affected states, have been reporting through the 108 helpline number.

Though, Kumar informed that the government has another system of collection of data from airports of persons coming into the state, the government however could not specify as to how those coming by road other means of transport like roads will be screened for COVID-19.

Meghalaya is a ‘transit state’, and people travelling by road to Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and even Barak Valley in South Assam pass through the state.

In the last few days, Kumar said more than 500 people have been checked while entering from Dawki in West Jaiñtia Hills and Dalu in West Garo Hills, the two designated entry points along the international border with Bangladesh.

Moreover, the health official also informed that the government has asked the hospitals to have separate OPDs for respiratory patients so that they do not have to move through other patients.

He also said that North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) has been designated as a testing centre even as doctors in districts are being trained how to take samples.

“We have put in a system wherein if samples are taken these would be sent to NEIGRIHMS and if these are positive they will be sent to Pune for confirmation,” Kumar said.

He also said that hotels have been notified to inform of any guests coming from foreign countries.

The Meghalaya Rural Tourism Forum has asked all its members who own guest houses and homestays to shutdown till this global crisis concerning COVID-19 virus subsides.

On the other hand, Food and Civil Supplies minister James Sangma held a review meeting with the respective Deputy Commissioners along with officials of the Food and Civil Supplies department to ensure no hoarding on essential commodities in the wake of threat posed by COVID-19.

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