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COVID-19: Confusion and chaos prevail at Umling entry point in Meghalaya

Umling entry point in Ri-Bhoi District is one of the busiest entry points of Meghalaya and there are just 25 to 27 staff working round the clock with 600 to 700 people returning home from across the country.

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Umling: Confusion and chaos prevailed at this Umling entry point here in Meghalaya with understaffed working 12 hours shifts amidst the daily deluge of stressed returnees undergoing registration and COVID-19 tests waiting for hours.

Umling entry point in Ri-Bhoi District is one of the busiest entry points of Meghalaya and there are just 25 to 27 staff working round the clock with 600 to 700 people returning home from across the country. People have to wait without food for hours before they can reach their respective home.

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“We have been here for the last three hours and now it’s 1430 HRS and we are not sure when we will be tested and then we can proceed onwards,” a paramilitary official, who is accompanied by his wife, a young girl child and a boy, said.

“I don’t know understand why they are not accepting our RT-PCR certificate and they cannot keeping poking our nose and throat to collect the swab sample,” he said.

Another group of family, who are returning to Shillong from Delhi, said they have been waiting since 1030 am and have been waiting for the last three hours to get their swab samples collected and tested in RT-PCR.

“It looks like that the checkpoint is understaffed because there is only one medical personnel collecting swab samples in this entry point. We are worried because there is no social distance and everyone want to reach home,” Mary, who have been waiting with her children for a couple of hours, at the entry point said.

At the entry point, there are four counters. The understaffed centre has now started giving out coupons to the queued returnees. With the coupon, the returnees have to queue up at the next counter for registration. Once that’s done they have to wait for their names to be called out for the testing in the next counter.

The RT-PCR test cost the returnees Rs 500 and the results are communicated to the returnees over their registered phone. During that period the returnees would have to isolate themselves in their homes.

“We are understaffed. We are working from 0800 HRS to 2000 HRS and some from 0700 HRS to 1900 HRS. Some of us don’t even have time to have our lunch,” a visibly stressed official said, as she urged returnees to maintain social distance.

Moreover, the officials are crying for immediate reinforcement of staff and infrastructure at the centre to ensure that the centre function smoothly.

“You are seeing yourself. where is social distancing? How can we manage,” the staff asked dejectedly pointing to the vast number of people waiting in the sun to get their swab samples tested.

On the other hand, the returnees also pointed out the lack of infrastructure and facilities at the centre.

The entry point is equipped with only “one wheelchair” and several senior citizens were being helped by their families to the registration counters.

Interestingly, the Umling entry point also has only “one doctor” at the centre who too is under stress.

“If anything happens to the returnees here it would be difficult to manage with just one doctor and we don’t even have an ambulance to shift any person to nearby hospital in the area,” one of the officials pointed out.

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