People walking toward Nepal from India in this recent photo. Photo: Yogesh Rawal/Republica
TIKAPUR, March 19: The Nepal-India border point at Khakraula in Tikapur Municipality – 9 remains crowded all the time. It is estimated that over 2,000 people cross this border point on a daily basis. However, the health desk set up there is no sufficient to check the health condition of the travelers. This lapse is likely to turn costly for the prevention and control of the possible spread of coronavirus.
According to Makendra Rokaya, a health worker at the health desk established at the border point, it is simply not possible to stop everyone and interrogate. So, they let the off the hook.
"How can we take care of every passer-by? It is simply not possible," he said. "Neither do we have adequate human resource nor equipment. We are not equipped for strict monitoring," he added.
Rokaya stated that the health desk stops only those who have stayed in India for long. Generally, it is the Nepalis from different villages of Nepal who go to India for shopping. They do not stay there for long but just get back after buying the needed stuffs.
"Tinkuniya market is a regular marketplace for most of the Nepalis here. They buy necessary stuffs and get back," said Rokaya. "Compared to Nepalis visiting the other side of the border, very few Indians come to this side," he added.
Rokaya stated that the staff deployed in the health desk first figure out 'those who need to be interrogated' and 'those okay to let go free' simply by guessing. The judge the travelers by their appearance, bags they carry and the means of transport they use.
"We first figure out those who should be grilled and those who do not require interrogation on the basis of their bags, movement, and appearance. We stop them and get them tested only if it looks necessary," explained Rokaya.
Bal Bahadur Rawal, chief of the health department of the municipality, admitted that the management along border is not enough. He stated that the help desk does not stop every passenger.
"It depends. Only those who have come to Nepal for the first time or in a huge gap are stopped and checked. It is not practical to stop and interrogate each and every traveler amid the arrangements we currently have," he said. "But in the view of the gradually rising cases of coronavirus, border movement should indeed be scrutinized much more," he added.
There are just four health workers at the desk. Two of them were deployed by the municipality office and the other two by Sudurpaschim provincial government. According to the staffers, they do not have enough scanner guns to record the temperature of the suspects.
The poor handling has triggered fear among the health workers themselves.