Fear of Covid-19 creates panic among people; masks, hand sanitizers sold out

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Mar 7: With the state government declaring high alert over the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the residents of the capital complex are seemingly panicking as hand sanitizers and masks in the markets have reportedly sold out.
Sources informed that hand sanitizers which contain recommended antibacterial agents have sold out and there is a mad rush for them.
“It’s all sold out. We have placed fresh orders, but we are a bit skeptical as to whether we will get the consignment,” said a shopkeeper in Ganga market.
“There is a mad rush to buy hand sanitizers and masks with news of the coronavirus outbreak spreading every day,” he added.
Arunachal Chamber of Commerce & Industries general secretary, Toko Tatung, confirmed that shops are running out of stocks of hand sanitizers.
“What is our preparedness and strategy towards it? There is no surgical mask, forget about N-95 masks, in the market. Even hand sanitizers are not readily available,” Tatung said.
He said the state government, “preferably the chief minister or the DCM,” should reach out to the people through all possible means of communication, before a fear psychosis is created.
“Thermal scanners must be installed at the railway station, the ISBT, the check gates in Banderdewa, Hollongi and Amchi, and at helipads, and also in the districts bordering the neighbouring state,” Tatung said.
Meanwhile, people who recently travelled outside the state are reportedly looking for screening centres to get themselves checked up.
The people are also questioning the state authority’s preparedness to counter Covid-19, which is spreading at an alarming rate across the world.
“I don’t know where the screening centres in Itanagar and Naharlagun are? I asked around about the availability of coronavirus screening centres but I haven’t found one anywhere,” said a youth who wanted to be screened for Covid-19.
On being contacted, Health & Family Welfare Secretary, Parthiban P, said surveillance teams have been activated in every district.
“Isolation wards with five beds in the health centres in every district have also been activated,” he said, and informed that quarantine centres have been identified in Naharlagun, in East Kameng, East Siang and Lohit districts, and in Tirap HQ Khonsa.
Parthiban said the deputy commissioners have been instructed to conduct personal hygiene awareness campaigns.
“Master trainers trained by the government of India will train other medical officers on attending to Covid-19 infected patients,” he said.
The secretary informed that there are only two laboratories available for screening for Covid-19 in the Northeast, in Assam’s Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
“Suspected people may come to give their samples for testing at any health centre,” Parthiban said.
Asserting that Arunachal is prepared, he said the government is tracking all seven Arunachalee travellers who have returned from East Asia and Europe.
Meanwhile, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee advised the people of the state to take all precautionary measures to protect themselves from Covid-19.
It also appealed to the people to not panic and not pay attention to rumour-mongering on social media.
The APCC urged the state government to form rapid response teams at district, block and village levels to tackle Covid-19 in the event that it spreads in the state.
“State government should take all adequate measures to tackle the emerging situation in the country by screening of passengers at airport, helipad, train and bus stations, and also at the check gates in various parts of the state,” it said.
The APCC also called for conducting screenings at hotels and guest houses, besides providing free health check-up at educational institutions and in various parts of the state.
It urged the government to provide up-to-date information and material support to the people, and to “rescue” the students from Arunachal who are studying outside the state.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju has written to the Indian Railways to arrange a special coach in the Arunachal Express train for a group of around 72 students from Arunachal studying at different schools in Delhi, in order to facilitate their return home.
Rijiju wrote to the Railway Board’s Principal Executive Director (Coaching), A Madhukumar Reddy, after the students expressed desire to return home, in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
The students, along with their parents/guardians, are likely to board the train at the Anand Vihar railway station on 8 March.
The Delhi government has closed down all primary schools in Delhi until 31 March as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus.