ITANAGAR, Jul 14: Eighteen out of 23 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after a reported ‘fasting meet’ at a prayer centre in Papu Nallah, Naharlagun – a fortnight after the government decided to allow places of worship to open from 1 July onwards.
Following the sudden surge in cases, the district disaster management authority has issued a containment order on the centre in Papu Nallah, with instructions to put the inmates under home quarantine for a period of 14 days with immediate effect.
During the containment period, the DMO will collect samples of the primary and secondary contacts for Covid-19 tests after shifting all positive cases to the Covid care centre in Lekhi.
As per the order, no unauthorized person shall be allowed to enter or exit from the prayer centre church without prior approval from either the Itanagar capital region deputy commissioner or the DMO/DSO.
The DMO/DSO will carry out antigen/RT-PCRA TrueNat tests on all the inmates as per the SOP from time to time and instruct on the period of quarantine and other follow-up action to be taken.
The DMO will also deploy staff to oversee the immediate medical and other essential needs of the inmates of the prayer centre, as may be required, and also for thermal scanning, etc.
The building will also be sanitized soon.
“At present, the perimeter of the containment area will be the prayer centre church. No buffer zone has been created as the scale is reportedly localized within the prayer centre as per contact tracing,” the order read.
“However,” it said, “the perimeter will be expanded subject to subsequent findings and as shall be required.”
Violators of the order will be prosecuted under Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and under Section 188 of the IPC.
On 30 June, the government had issued an order allowing opening of places of worship outside the containment zones in the state, with certain restrictions and operating procedures, including regular disinfection, provision of water, soap and sanitizer, maintenance of strict hygiene and social distancing norms within and outside the premises, using of facemasks, and arrangements for separate entry and exit points.
However, it is not known whether the protocols were being followed or not.
Reportedly, there are places of worship across the state that are housing devotees for prayer meets and functions and many are not heeding the advice of their family members to return home.
It is to be noted that the deputy commissioners are empowered to regulate or close any religious institution in order to control the spread of Covid-19 in Arunachal.
While the daily bulletin reported a Covid-10 positive case in Papu Nallah, it did not specify whether the case was from a prayer centre or not.