Omicron: West Bengal goes tough on truck drivers from Bangladesh

The detection of Omicron variant cases in India on Thursday has prompted the West Bengal government to take measures to quarantine truck drivers in the border areas.

The measures include conducting RT-PCR tests, restricting the movement of trucks carrying different commodities from Bangladesh through the India-Bangladesh border to several districts including Petrapole in North 24 Parganas district and Ghojadanga in Basirhat, Malda, Murshidabad and several other places, reports The Economic Times. 

Bangladesh and West Bengal share around a 2,216.7km border, which covers 10 of the 23 districts of the state.

Goods-carrying trucks travel daily between India and Bangladesh through several districts in West Bengal, with the most significant being Petrapole.

Petrapole is a border checkpoint between India and Bangladesh, located in Bongaon of North 24 Parganas district.

Petrapole is the sole land port in south Bengal and the largest land customs station in Asia. It sees a huge traffic of goods-laden trucks travelling to either side of the border daily.

Kamlesh Saini, manager of the Land Ports Authority of India at Petrapole, said anyone, including truck drivers, entering India from Bangladesh must undergo an RT-PCR-based Covid-19 test within 72 hours before arrival.

A team has been formed for randomly checking Covid-19 test reports of people travelling to India, he added.

If a person with a business or a medical visa tests positive for Covid-19 upon entering India, he/she will be quarantined, Saini said, adding that anyone else testing positive will be sent back to Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Malda District Magistrate Rajarshi Mitra said a pool of drivers, who travel between India and Bangladesh every day, have been isolated and kept in quarantine. 

They are not allowed to get in touch with the public or move around in India, he said, adding that RT-PCR tests will be done before they are released after 15-20 days.

The measure was in place during the peak of the pandemic and has now been reintroduced, Mitra said.

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