The Orissa High Court on Thursday ordered that migrant workers stranded in other parts of the country due to the nationwide lockdown should test negative for the coronavirus before entering the state. However, it is not yet clear who will pay for the tests.
A bench comprising Justices S Panda and KR Mohapatra passed the order while hearing a petition filed by a man identified as Narayan Chandra Jena. “The state government should ensure that all migrants who are in queue to come to Odisha should be tested negative of Covid-19 before boarding the conveyance,” the order read.
Odisha registered its highest single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 209, the state health department said.
Till Wednesday, 35,540 migrant workers had returned to Odisha, according to the Hindustan Times. Another five lakh workers are expected to arrive over the next few weeks.
Health department officials said that the coronavirus curve is unlikely to be flattened in the state with the arrival of the workers.
The lockdown, imposed initially on March 24 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, has been extended two times since – first to May 3 and now to May 17. The Centre has started operating special trains to move migrant workers, pilgrims and students stranded in various states. Lakhs of migrant workers have registered to return to their homes.