Chin State Govt Strategizes How to Accommodate Returnees From India Amid Pandemic

Monday, June 22, 2020

With rising rates of COVID-19 in neighboring India, the Chin State government is preparing a separate quarantine facility for returnees across the Mizoram border.

Pau Lum Ming Thang, the state’s social affairs minister, said that anyone returning to Burma will need to do so through an official border crossing rather than through informal crossings and are tracking down Burmese nationals that re-enter the country that way.

“Currently, the infection rate is very high in India. Chin State has a border with India. So we have many challenges,” he told NMG. “Indian soldiers already blocked the highways [in India], but people can travel other ways. Therefore, we have requested all village headmen to report to us if they know of returnees from India. We have also requested that quarantine centers report it to us.”

The measures are to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, a consequence he is “afraid of.”

The Chin State government has reported than more than 100 migrant workers from Burma remain trapped in Mizoram state in India, and they are preparing separate quarantine facilities for them when they return. The centers are located in Kyihkar and Rih border towns.

India had more than 425,000 cases of COVID-19 at the time of reporting, according to multiple media reports.

“We are going to wet up border checkpoints at Khin Mang village. We will accept the returnees there. Then we will send them to a quarantine center at a sports stadium in Kyihkar town,” the social affairs minister said, adding that Rih town is also ready to receive returnees.

According to reports released by the Burmese embassy in India, some 196 people have reported that they would like to return to Burma. They are mostly migrant workers and religious studies students.

“We have reported it to the Union government. I don’t know how they will return to the country,” Pau Lum Ming Thang said, adding that it does not appear the Indian government will facilitate their return. “The situation is a bit complicated,” he added.

A total of 49 people returned to Burma from India in the last week of May. Among these returnees, 16 people have returned to their homes after spending 21 days in a quarantine center. Some 33 people remain in a quarantine center in Falam town and are waiting for their COVID-19 test results.

As of June 22, the Burmese Ministry of Health and Sports reported 290 confirmed cases of COVID-19, six deaths and 200 recoveries.

India had more than 425,000 cases of COVID-19 at the time of reporting, according to multiple media reports.