[ Ranjit Sinha ]
Arunachal on Sunday witnessed an unprecedented shutdown in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a ‘janta curfew’ to put brakes on the ferocious spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country.
Even in Itanagar, many of the residents chose to keep their windows closed, which indicated the people’s determination and resolve to fight and defeat the deadly virus together.
Arunachal may take the opportunity of the people’s resolve to fight the ‘invisible enemy’ and move forward with bigger steps in order to prevent the virus from spreading its tentacles in the geographically backward Himalayan state.
It is worth mentioning that even though no coronavirus positive case has been reported in the Northeast, the Nagaland government has declared an indefinite lockdown from Sunday midnight, in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
While the Manipur government has brought the entire state under Section 144 CrPC with immediate effect as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, the Meghalaya government has restricted the entry of people from other states.
In neighbouring Assam, the apex transport organization of the state has decided that all types of commercial vehicles, including buses and Tempos, will remain off the roads across Assam till Tuesday, while Mizoram has taken the decision to enforce ‘partial lockdown’ till 29 March in view of the pandemic.
It is time that Arunachal also takes some ideas from our neighbouring states and other affected states of the country in order to contain Covid-19.
Amid reports of coronavirus cases touching the figure of 400 within a few weeks in India, all railway operations have also been suspended as a tougher measure, and there will no passenger train services till 31 March midnight.
There is no doubt that the Arunachal government has taken precautionary measures to prevent the entry of Covid-19 into the state – right from suspending the issuance of protected area and inner line permits to closing educational institutes, weekly markets and border haats, and, above all, continuing testing passengers arriving in the state. But in the given situation, where the graph of coronavirus positive cases is climbing rapidly in the country, the time has come for the state to act first to take all possible measures to prevent the deadly virus from sneaking into the state.
When the union health ministry has admitted that the biggest challenge is how to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission, the state government may also ponder the suggestion of the Indian Council of Medical Research that isolation of people entering the state from outside is the easiest way to break the chain of viral transmission (in case of outbreak of the coronavirus in the state).
While the government is taking every step for prevention of Covid-19, it should also be prepared and well-equipped to defeat the coronavirus in case it breaks out in the state.
As a first step, the state government should keep trained personnel ready for contact tracing (tracing those who have come into contact with coronavirus infected persons) and putting them in quarantine. It should also provide immediate fund to the health authorities for establishing a coronavirus diagnosis laboratory at the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences, procure equipment for the Covid-19 isolation wards in various districts, and ensure adequate availability of personal protection equipment for medical staffers and hand sanitizers for the general public.
While everyone is serious about the coronavirus, many experts in medical science believe that the Covid-19 disease can be defeated by taking strong preventive measures, including social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene and good health. Therefore, it is time to cooperate with the government agencies and follow the guidelines and advisories being issued by both the state and the central governments from time to time to prevent the entry of the coronavirus.
One should maintain a safe distance from the public, avoid public gatherings and crowded places, and wash one’s hands with the prescribed hand sanitizers.
Let us defeat the invisible enemy of human beings together.