Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The nationwide 21-day lockdown announced by the prime minister is planned to end on 14 April. Till date there are 33 Covid-19 positive cases in Northeast India and only one positive case in Arunachal. The quarantine period of the majority persons who returned from outside the state is over, with only a few persons yet to complete the 14-day quarantine period.
As per latest studies, the incubation period for Covid-19 ranges from 1-14 days and 97.5 percent of infected individuals would develop symptoms within 11.5 days. However, there are chances that a miniscule 1 percent may develop symptoms after 14 days.
This means that the laid down 14-day quarantine does not provide full safety. Thus, the PM ordered a national lockdown for 21 days (14+7 days). Since Arunachal has undergone lockdown for 21 days and after all the persons who returned from outside the state finish the 21 days of quarantine, it may be safe to say that Arunachal is free of Covid-19, except for the single positive case.
That brings the question of bringing back the stranded Arunachalees. If the state is Covid-19-free, the virus can be brought into the state only from outside the state. Therefore, it must be ensured that stranded Arunachalees are centrally brought back in sanitized buses from airports, railway stations or entry gates. Individual collection should not be allowed as they may contact any hidden virus, and individual collectors must also be placed in quarantine. The staffs of these transport vehicles must be provided with adequate protection in terms of protection equipment. The arriving persons must be placed in centrally organized quarantine centres, NOT individual homes. These quarantine centres must be sealed, guarded round the clock with only selected teams dealing with the quarantine centres. Dormitories should be avoided to prevent chance infection to all co-inhabitants. It would be ideal to house them in partitioned/separate rooms.
The quarantine period must be at least 21 days. To ensure that the state is free from Covid-19, the state’s borders and boundaries must be sealed and any leakage must be stopped/plugged.
Since the state would be Covid-19-free, normalcy should be restored in increments after detailed observation. All persons entering the state should be placed in quarantine centres for at least 21 days. Essential loads, goods coming from outside the state should be transshipped via different sets of drivers/staffs from the designated entry/check gates.
Personnel dealing with transportation must protect themselves with masks, sanitizers during transshipment. Goods and transport vehicles must be sanitized at the entry gates with decontamination sprays. Passenger transportation within the state should be cleared following social distancing norms and transport sanitization.
Facemasks should be made compulsory for all citizens at public places, and social distancing insisted upon. After implementation of these steps and after observation for 1-2 weeks, offices, markets, industries, agri-horticulture may be allowed. Offices, hotels, shops, industries must be sanitized by respective in-charges and social distancing maintained. After completion of another 1-2 weeks, schools and colleges may be reopened. However, gatherings, social events, religious events of more than 10-20 persons should not be allowed.
Similar opening up of travel to other states may be cleared incrementally after ascertaining safety. These steps should be followed till medical solutions/vaccines are developed. Requesting all readers to wear masks and maintain social distancing. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)