[ Taba Ajum ]
As the entire world battles the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), Arunachal too has joined the war. The state government announced complete lockdown of the state from 23 March evening onwards, ahead of the nationwide lockdown which began on the midnight of 25 March. Medical experts across the world, especially in the worst-affected countries, have emphasized that social distancing is perhaps the best weapon to stop the spread of Covid-19. Therefore, the importance of the lockdown is extremely significant and the people should take the advice of the authorities very seriously.
Unfortunately, during the early days of the lockdown, people, especially in the capital complex region, were seen breaking the lockdown order. Many were out on the streets for no reason, and some were even seen taking out children to the markets. Instead of cooperating with the authorities, they were making things difficult for everyone. Such people should be ashamed of their irresponsible behaviour. The lockdown is till 14 April, and there are chances that it might be extended if the situation does not improve. Therefore the citizens will have to bear the pain and extend all possible cooperation to the government in this time of crisis.
As the authorities struggled to enforce the lockdown, people across the state took matters into their own hands and started to block roads to stop the movement of people. While their intention may be good, blocking the national highway, state highway and other important roads is uncalled for. In times of medical emergency and other cases, the people will suffer. The authorities should look into it and stop people from blocking the major roads.
The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the pathetic health sector of the state. Till now, Arunachal does not have a single hospital with an intensive care unit (ICU), be it government or private. It is shocking that a state with a population of around 15 lakhs does not have a single ICU. The government has announced that it will establish the state’s first ever, four-bedded, ICU with a ventilator at TRIHMS. On a lighter note, one can say that this is the most important contribution of Covid-19 to the state. Most of the doctors and nurses are working without proper personal protective equipment. This is extremely dangerous. In both China and Italy, significant numbers of people who died due to Covid-19 are health workers like doctors, nurses, etc. The government will have to make every effort to keep these frontline warriors safe.
The religious organizations have shown immense maturity in the battle against Covid-19. As soon as the government announced the lockdown, the churches, namlos, temples, mosques, monasteries, etc, issued orders to shut down the places of worship. This has been a positive move, and the leaders of the religious organizations of Arunachal deserve appreciation for their promptness in supporting the lockdown order. Also, it is appreciable that the government servants in the state have come out to voluntarily donate chunks of their salaries to chief minister’s relief fund (CMRF). The CMRF will be an important tool in the battle against Covid-19. However, it should not be limited to the government employees. The state has a significant population of people in businesses, both tribal and non-tribal. It is time these rich people loosened their purses and voluntarily donate to the CMRF. Remember, the battle against Covid-19 cannot be fought alone by the government. Every one of us will have to contribute our bit to save humankind.