First batch of 57 Iran-returned pilgrims reaches Kargil after quarantine in UP

KARGIL: The first batch of 57 Iran-returned pilgrims reached here on Tuesday in a special Indian Air Force (IAF) flight after undergoing quarantine in Uttar Pradesh, officials said.

However, they would not be going home just now as they have to undergo another phase of 14-day administrative quarantine for their own and others’ safety, they said.

“The UT administration is happy to announce the homecoming of the first batch of 57 Iran returnees to Kargil post quarantine…,” tweeted the office of the Ladakh Divisional Commissioner and Secretary Saugat Biswas.

The flight carrying the pilgrims from Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad (UP) landed at Kargil at 11:15 am and the administration is actively pursuing the return of the next batch on Wednesday, the tweet added.

When contacted, Kargil District Development Commissioner Baseer Ul Haq Choudhary said they were among over 550 pilgrims hailing from Kargil who were evacuated from Iran in the last week of March in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

The others are under quarantine in different parts of the country, he said.

“There were over 850 pilgrims from Kargil who had gone for pilgrimage to Iran. About 300 are still in Iran,” he told PTI.

He said the 57 pilgrims have completed their quarantine period in Ghaziabad and their arrival in Ladakh.

However, before they are allowed to go home, the pilgrims would undergo an institutional quarantine as a precautionary measure for their own welfare, and the safety of others, he said.

“They have come from high temperature areas, whereas the maximum temperature in Kargil is still very low. The difference in the temperature (between Ghaziabad and Kargil) might cause some health issues among the pilgrims. Therefore, to monitor them, it was decided that they will undergo another quarantine,” he said.

On April 17, the UT administration had decided that returning pilgrims would be sent to institutional quarantine for proper and strict medical surveillance in consonance with the protocols of the World Health Organisation and those of the Union Ministry of Health.

The Kargil administration has already designated institutional quarantine facilities at 22 locations with more than 1100 beds, the officials said.

They said the opening of the 434-km Srinagar-Leh National Highway and operation of flights after lockdown would throw new challenges in the fight against coronavirus.

The need of the hour is to maintain extra vigilance and strict observance of protocols at all levels to contain the spread of the deadly virus in the district, he said. (AGENCIES)


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