Exceptional response as lockdown clamped in NE India

Guwahati/Imphal/Agartala, March 24 (IANS): People from all walks of life, including traders and transporters, on Tuesday fully followed the lockdown, imposed on the seven northeastern states in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials said.


The authorities, specially the health services officials, have further stepped up their efforts and campaign against the COVID-19, after a 23-year-old Manipuri woman who returned from the United Kingdom last week tested positive, making it the first case in the northeast region of India.


The woman, who is now undergoing treatment at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) in Imphal, did not reveal her travel history earlier before she was detected positive with the novel coronavirus.


The officials of the Manipur health services said that on March 19 the younger brother of the woman had arrived in Kolkata from Atlanta. Both stayed in a hotel in Kolkata and arrived in Manipur capital Imphal on March 21 by a private airliner via Agartala airport (Tripura) along with 108 other passengers.


Majority of the northeastern states declared the lockdown until March 31, while Nagaland enforced it for indefinite period, Mizoram till March 29 and Meghalaya imposed the lockdown until March 29 with a break on March 26 to facilitate people to buy essential items and daily necessities.


During the lockdown period, various state governments of the region also announced a diverse sops and free rice supply and financial supports to the working class people especially the daily wage earners besides medical help.


In the lockdown period, banking services, shops and markets dealing with groceries, vegetables, medicine, milk, cooking gas, and petrol pumps would remain open in most of the northeastern states.


Most state governments also arranged alternate duty roster for their employees asking a large numbers of government staffs to come to office alternatively and to work from their residence.


However, just before and during the lockdown period, prices of various essentials, vegetables, meat, rice, and other commodities including soaps and disinfectants are soaring up. Availability of transport fuel becomes scarce.


The officials of the enforcement departments of various northeastern states are visiting in the markets to check the prices of the essentials, vegetables, meat, rice, and other supplies.


Assam Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb warned the traders and suppliers to take stern actions if they increase the prices of the essentials and try to hoard the commodities especially rice, potato and onion. In Guwahati, Sarma had urged people not to frighten as basic essential services would be available during the lockdown period.


Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has directed district Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police to ensure that there is no shortage of essential commodities in the state.


In Agartala, according to Tripura Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar, 11 passengers, who came to Agartala with the same flight of novel coronavirus (nCoV) infected Manipuri girl are in home quarantine and another 47 people arrived in Tripura from abroad are in special surveillance.


He said the state, district and sub-divisional control rooms are being opened to monitor the situation round-the-clock.