Seven migrant labourers who returned to Purulia district of West Bengal from Chennai have quarantined themselves on a banyan and two mango trees back home amid the coronavirus pandemic, The New Indian Express reported on Saturday. The labourers’ families live in single-room mud huts, so they decided to live away from their homes and their village.
The labourers avoided using the ground under the trees to quarantine themselves for fear of elephants. Bijoy Singh Laya, one of the labourers, said doctors had advised them to home-quarantine for 14 days, ANI reported. “We came through Berhampur via a vehicle,” he said. “We are now good here. Doctors have told us to stay under home-quarantine for 14 days and maintain distance. But in our house, we do not have personal rooms and our villagers discussed that we can stay here.”
Wooden cots have been tied to the branches of the trees using bamboo sticks, The Indian Express reported. Each cot is covered by a plastic sheet and a mosquito net. The labourers have been given masks, and have to climb down the trees only to relieve themselves, wash their clothes and eat. They are served food thrice a day.
“Now we are on our own, we will be staying here comfortably following all rules,” Laya said. “In the morning we are served breakfast here. In the afternoon and evening, we are served with rice. Water is also available here. We also have a stove to boil the water and cook food.”
Hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers have set out on foot for their towns and villages, hundreds of kilometres away, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting March 25. There have been reports of deaths of some labourers too while in transit.
The country has so far reported 979 cases of Covid-19, of which 25 people have died, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.