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Northeast fights Corona with customary laws and stricter adherence to Lockdown

          

As coronavirus cases in the country rise, some positive news are coming from Northeast. The Himalayan states have given a mighty fight against COVID-19.The regions of the country had shown a better fight against the disease, given their natural advantages of less accessibility, less density of population and most importantly stricter adherence to the lockdown.

Many believe that tribal customs and practices have made the North-East stronger and mightier.

We have reflected on how Sikkim has kept itself away from the impact of deadly virus by acting on time to stopping overseas travellers from entering Sikkim and following rules enforced by the government.  Other North-Eastern states have shown the way in keeping Covid-19 at bay by reducing its impact to the minimum, through rigorous social distancing practiced by people and a high rate of curing infected patients according to a detailed assessment done by the Centre.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

A week back, Arunachal Pradesh has declared itself coronavirus-free as the lone patient tests negative. Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted about the suspected case being negative. “The first positive #COVID-19 case of Arunachal Pradesh has tested negative (twice), after conducting 3rd and 4th test consecutively. The number of positive case in state is now zero.” Reads the tweet.

TRIBAL CUSTOMS OF LOCKDOWN

Having successfully treated and discharged the state’s only COVID-19 patient, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the few states in India to successfully fight back the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In fact Arunachal Pradesh is guided by its own custom and rituals and this has made the fight against corona easier for the state. Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh had implemented their own customary rituals which are equivalent to a lockdown, much before the lone COVID-19.

For the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, there was also the challenge of keeping the local population away from the virus. Though the state is geographically closest to China’s Hubei province, however, the practices and rituals of Tani has kept the people safe. The indigenous tribal quarantine practice proved to be very helpful.

AloLibang, Minister in-charge of Health and family welfare, said, “All Abotani clan has this practice of customary lockdown, it is a means of self quarantine and it has been a major factor in the fight against COVID-19.”

Abotani or Abu Tani is considered the progenitor of the Tani tribes of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India such as the Apatani, the Nyishi, the Adi, the Galosand Tagin. Mishing tribe of Assam also belongs to the Abatoni group.

As the state became COVID-19 free, it is preparing it’s future course of action for stranded people who will soon return to the state after the lockdown is withdrawn. While the state did not have any more COVID-19 cases, they are keeping a strong vigil on the inter-state borders and following a very strong sanitisation protocol.

We are preparing for the stranded people living outside; when they come back possibility is there some case may come up. We are well equipped and are screening people as a special screening at interstate checkpoints with infrared thermal scanner is being done. As and when these people come back we will screen them at interstate border and keep them in quarantine centres.

We have sansitizeour people. People from other states are not allowed to enter Arunachal, we will only allow our own people but we will quarantine them as and when they return. We have sealed totally international border. We will open state border but movement will be restricted. We are monitoring and checking all the essential supply vehicles entering Arunachal Pradesh as wewill not allow any migrant labourers to enter the state hiding in any such vehicles.

MANIPUR

Manipur too became coronavirus free as the state had two COVID-19 cases and both of them have recovered fully.

Chief Minister N.Biren Singh tweeted, “I am glad to share that Manipur is now Corona free.Both patients have fully recovered and have tested negative.There are no fresh cases of the virus in the state.This has been possible because of cooperation of public &medical staff and strict enforcement of lockdown.”

The chief Minister said full credit was due to frontline workers like doctors, nurses and paramedics, who keeping working despite the risks to which they are exposed.

In this state, strict enforcement of quarantine and lockdown orders have worked swiftly in reducing spread of the highly infectious novel coronavirus. Manipur however, continues to follow strict rules as the Government prepares action plan for coming days.

TRIPURA

Tripura becomes the India’s 3rd coronavirus-free state. Chief Minister of Tripura,Biplab Kumar Deb in a tweet declared that his state has become a COVID-19 free state after two positive cases recovered from of the dreadful virus.

“The second corona patient of Tripura has been found negative after consecutive tests. Hence our State has become Corona free. I request everyone to maintain social distancing and follow Government guidelines. Stay home stay safe.

I thank all the frontline Warriors for making our State Corona free. The fight is not over yet. I urge everyone to follow the Government guidelines.” Reads BiplabKuma Deb’s tweet. 

To control the spread of the disease, Government of Tripura imposes penalties for spitting and urinating in public places said the Chief Minister.

“As per the government of India directives, our government has decided to impose penalties for spitting and urinating in public places under all ULBs- Municipality Corporations, Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayets, now the penalty of Rs.100 for spitting and Rs.200 for urinating will be imposed.” Said Deb.

It was in January end, that Tripura soundedthe alert on Coronavirus as part of precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus, Tripura government has installed health screening facilities for people entering Tripura from adjoining Bangladesh through Land Customs Station (LCS) and Akhaura Integrated Check Post (ICP).

Although, the state reported two cases but it has never failed to sensitize it’speople adopt various measures to check spread of the virus.

 DebasishBasu, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Tripura says the state proposes another phase of lockdown for International borders.  He however claimed that the state is well equipped with medical equipments and PPE kits

 

GEARING UP FOR THE NEXT COURSE OF ACTION

With the number of novel Coronavirus aka COVID-19 cases increasing in bordering districts of Bangladesh, the Tripura government has decided to deploy the elite Tripura State Rifles (TSR) troops as a second line of defence to ensure high vigil along the borders. The state is now preparing itself for the stranded people as it gears up for an action plan for incoming passengers.

“We have put immense restrictions that will continue till 3rd May. We have already decided on the next course of action, how to check incoming passengers if the lockdown is withdrawn, then a large number of people will come from different states. In the interstate boundary, we will screen all the people.” Said DebashishBasu. 

“We will keep maximum rapid antibody kits there as people will be screened by infra red scanners. We propose for another phase of lockdown for the International border, since we have a large boundary with Bangladesh, we have to protect us. We have sensitized all people, we have built enough quarantine facilities. If any outsider comes, they will be put under quarantine. If the rail restriction is withdrawn, we will screen the railway passenger as maximum has possible.” Added Basu.

MIZORAM

What protects Mizoram is it’s law abidingness. Mizos are known for their law-abiding nature have often been in the news for successful implementation of traffic rules to a fault. The successful rollout of the lockdown plan is also seen, as another example of the disciplined social life of the Mizos. Miles of empty roads with not a single soul or vehicle out on the streets, describes the true feeling of lockdown. The government has sensitized people through television, radio and all other forms of social and print media. 

Another important factor is a strong community values among the members of civil society which seems to have helped Mizoram in containing the spread of the global coronavirus epidemic.Showing a remarkable feat in containing the spread of the epidemic, Mizoram have managed to confine the case of coronavirus infections to one patient.

Today the only positive case in the state is recovering and no new case is reported here. Spokesperson and State nodal officer of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and epidemiologist Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma believes that the local level task force is the backbone of monitoring the lockdown, home quarantine and this restrictedthe further spread of the deadly disease. The state level as well as the local level task force also did it’s best in controlling the disease.

“We have sealed the international border with Bangladesh and Myanmar on time.  Except one interstate border, the rest of the borders are closed down. The local level task force is the backbone of monitoring the lockdown and home quarantine and this restricted the further spread of the deadly disease.” Said Dr.Lalmalsawma.

“The state is now preparing itself for the withdrawal of the lockdown as it will continue with the screening at the interstate border and anybody entering the state has to quarantine themselves. We are doing proper screening and once the lockdown is withdrawn we will continue screening of passengers at the interstate border with infrared thermal sensors.” Added Lalmalsawma.

Self reporting will also be encouraged. Anybody entering Mizoram will be quarantined for alteast two weeks in Government identified quarantine centres.

About the author

Purbasha Bhattacharjee

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