The Bihar government is distributing free condoms to migrant labourers going home after completing 14-day institutional quarantine and those in home quarantine to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Presently, over 8.77 lakh people have left quarantine facilities, while 5.30 lakh are still living in block and district centres. "Migrant labourers are going to their homes after completing the 14-day institutional quarantine. Since there are chances of unwanted pregnancies, we properly counsel them and give them tools (such as condoms) to avoid unwanted pregnancy," a senior health department official told PTI.

The official, who is entrusted with family planning in the state health society, however, made it clear that "it is purely a family planning measure and has nothing to do with COVID-19".

"As a health professional, it is our responsibility to control the population. We have been taking the support of our health partner Care India to implement the initiative."

The official said unwanted pregnancies have witnessed a surge the world over during the lockdown and it was against this backdrop that the initiative was launched.

The initiative will continue till the quarantine centres are functioning, he added.

The quarantine centres are likely to be closed by June 15 by which time almost all migrants wanting to return will have reached the state, official sources said.

Health coordinators are distributing two packets of condoms at quarantine centres, while ASHA workers have been handing them out during door-to-door screening of people in home quarantine.

An official of Care India said the NGO is providing technical support to the health department in this initiative.