Guwahati: On Friday, the Mizoram state government decided to ban the entry of trucks and other vehicles carrying goods after 18 truck drivers and handymen from outside the state tested positive for Covid-19, an official said.
The decision to ban entry of goods trucks was taken in a Cabinet meeting on Friday. However, essential commodities carrying vehicles will be exempted from the ban.
Official sources informed the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Zoramthanga, decided to impose a temporary ban on entry of vehicles carrying commodities except those carrying essential commodities at the existing two entry points in Vairengte on the Mizoram-Assam border and Kanhmun on the state border with Tripura until further orders are issued.
The meeting was conducted after about 18 truck drivers and handymen tested positive for Covid-19. They are stranded along the National Highway-306 (formerly NH-54) between Hmangkhawthlir and Sethawn in Kolasib district.
It was also decided that drivers and handymen of those vehicles carrying essential commodities will have to undergo mandatory screening and Rapid Antigen Test at the entry points and if they test negative, they will be allowed to make an inward movement to the state.
The vehicles will not be allowed to make any stops on the way until they reach their destinations and they will return to their respective states after unloading the commodities. They are bound to follow safety protocol and standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the state government and they have to ensure physical distancing with others while unloading their goods.
Police patrolling will be increased to guarantee that the drivers and handymen respect safety protocol during their journey. Vehicles carrying essentials commodities are allowed to enter the state only through Vairengte and Kanhmun entry points.
Meanwhile, Kolasib district deputy commissioner told reporters that at least 18 truck drivers and handymen and a 12-year-old girl, who is a local resident of Sethawn village, have tested positive for Covid-19, taking the state's Covid-19 tally to 558. He said that the patients haven't shown any symptoms of Covid-19 but they were isolated at a Covid-19 Care Centre in Thingdawl near Kolasib.
He further said that at least 320 samples belonging to truck drivers and handymen have been tested since yesterday. He also said that the area between Hmangkhawthlir and Sethawn has been declared a containment zone.
Kolasib SP Vanlalfaka Ralte said that about 572 vehicles are currently stranded along the NH-306 due to ongoing repair work on the road between Hmangkhawthlir and Sethawn and drivers and handymen of the vehicles are yet to be tested. SP Ralte also said that 89 vehicles were released from the containment zone on Friday.
Many stranded vehicles have returned to their states with their goods on Friday.
Mizoram completely sealed its international and inter-state on March 22 to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. Vairengte was open to allow movement of goods. Kanhmun on the state border with Tripura and Bairabi on the Mizoram-Assam border were later opened for vehicles carrying goods.
At the same time, the Mizoram government also opened its border with Assam for passengers such as stranded residents of the state and visitors at the Vairengte entry point. The decision was taken to organize the influx of people at a fixed point.
The Home Secretary of Mizoram, Lalbiaksangi said that the government has opened the entry point at Vairengte for entry of passengers and passenger vehicles for 7 hours between 6 am and 12 noon from Monday to Saturday.
She informed that the order to this effect was issued on Thursday. Vairengte entry point will be opened 24×7 for vehicles carrying goods, she added.
The order will allow passengers to enter the state within 7 hours between Monday and Saturday. This order will help the police and officials to manage the entry of people at a single point as those on duty at the entry point faced inconvenience due to a shortage of manpower.
People willing to enter Mizoram must take prior permission from the home department for movement. All incoming passenger vehicles will be identified by fluorescent orange colored sticker marked with "Bound for Quarantine."