Hundreds of tourists and others travel between India and Nepal through the Sonauli checkpoint in Uttar Pradesh. But it is shocking to learn that no proper arrangements exist here to screen the travellers, the foreigners visiting India for first time in particular, for any possible swine flu symptoms.
Many of the tourists complained of no medical check-up facility available at the Indian checkpoint for the swine flu virus let alone providing Tamiflu or other medical assistance if anyone is suffering from the disease.
Petra Lorna, a Dutch tourist on returning from Nepal after a short trip, complained that no doctor was present on the border.
M Ratanpal, a Buddhist pilgrim from Sri Lanka, also expressed similar thoughts.
"Today, we are returning to India passing through the border. There was no medical officer to check our health," said Ratanapal.
On their part, the immigration officials agreed with the tourists, but blamed it on the absentee doctors who have not been turning up for duty.
"To check foreigners entering India for the first time through this border, doctors have been appointed. But the problem is that they always complain about their job instead of going about it. So they come on duty on and off. We have complained to the Chief Medical Officer that no doctor has been coming in the early shift for the past 9 to 10 days," said Ram Krishna Tripathi, immigration in-charge, India-Nepal border post, Sonauli.
This is incongruent with arrangements made at other international checkpoints such as airports where people coming to India are being screened for the H1N1 virus.
Every day, at least 500 individuals and large groups of foreign tourists enter India from Nepal to visit Buddhist religious sites. Most of them happen to be visitors for the first time.
Apart from the tourists from European countries, Sri Lankans and people from the Far East travel through this international checkpoint to complete their tour of Buddhist religious circuit spanning in India and Nepal.