The migrants returning home from other states constituted three-fourths of the 200 new coronavirus cases detected in Bihar last week, a top official told Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday.
Principal Secretary, Health, Sanjay Kumar was briefing the chief minister at a high-level meeting chaired by the latter where he said the number of people, coming from outside, who have tested positive between May 4 and May 10 was 150.
The state's tally stood at 707 on Sunday, a jump of more than 200 since a week before. Over 100 people tested positive over the weekend.
The principal secretary said the maximum number of 41 coronavirus-infected people have come from Delhi, followed by Maharashtra (36), Gujarat (33), Telangana (10) and Haryana (03). The remaining have come from other parts of the country.
Migrant workers, students and pilgrims -- stuck in far-off places because of the nationwide lockdown -- have begun to come back in droves by special trains and also by road, on hired vehicles, following revised guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry allowing the same.
Over one lakh residents of Bihar stranded outside due to imposition of coronavirus-triggered lockdown since March 25 have returned to the state so far.
The issue of return of migrant workers and students had for long been a bone of contention between the government and the opposition in Bihar.
Initially wary of such mass travel out of fear that it could lead to a steep rise in cases, the state government had frowned upon students from Kota being brought back to Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by buses.
The opposition, however, accused the ruling dispensation of insensitivity towards its own people, recounting the strong disapproval from leaders of the ruling JD(U) to return of migrants from Delhi-NCR soon after the lockdown was clamped.
Later, the government agreed to have trains reaching Bihar carrying people stranded elsewhere, bearing the cost of travel for students and promising full reimbursement with an additional assistance of Rs500 each to migrant workers once they completed the mandatory 21-day quarantine.
The principal secretary also informed the chief minister that as of now the state could accommodate 3.75 lakh people at block-level quarantine centres while an additional 2.42 lakh could be lodged at those at the Panchayats.
He also said in view of the influx that may continue for some time to come, efforts were being made to increase the number of quarantine centres and enhance the capacity of testing centres.
Random testing of those coming to Bihar from areas classified as a red zone has begun and a move was afoot to ensure that testing centres were set up at the district level, he added.
Taking a grim note of the situation, the chief minister said Bihar was not getting enough testing kits but efforts would be made to ensure adequate supply since it had become necessary in view of the continuing influx.
He also issued instructions to officials to coordinate with Railways and governments of other states to ensure that arrangements could be in place within seven days for all those who desired a journey back home.
He also ordered that to ramp up corona prevention measures at village panchayat levels, each family be provided with four masks each besides a soap by the government.
Taking note of the fact that a sizeable portion of those coming back comprised migrant labourers, the chief minister reiterated the need for their skill survey on completion of the quarantine period so that they could be gainfully employed within the state once fit to resume work.
The meeting was also attended, among others, by Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar and Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey.