Guwahati: After Kerala and Goa’s successful feat, the Northeast has been able to set a concrete example in administrative prowess in dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic. With five out of eight states in the Northeast now absolutely corona free, Mizoram, too, is now on the verge of following the trend. Despite being in close vicinity to China, the Northeast has been able to contain the infetion. Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh has said that the Northeast has emerged as a model of developmental transformation, and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the region has emerged as a model of effective, diligent and disciplined health management.
To begin with, prompt steps to close the international borders (the region shares its 99% borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan) and early lockdown (48 hours before the nationwide lockdown) triggered the inception of a controlled administrative ecosystem. This control was further enhanced by swift quarantining of those who came in from other parts of the country. The bugle was blown in Sikkim as early as the beginning of March when the government decided to restrict inflow of both domestic and foreign tourists to the tourism hotspot. The state government is ready with its plan to mitigate future mishaps by closing down the inter-country border till October this year. It has also decided against reopening the Nathu La trade route with China for an indefinite period to stem cross-border contamination.
In Arunachal Pradesh, customary rituals and indigenous quarantine regimes were put in place way before even the first case was detected in the state. Native aboriginal tribal customary exercises like Ali Ternam by the Galo tribe, where villages are locked down to ward off evil spirits, were implemented. Tribal practices like “Motor”, and “Arrue” by tribes like Adi and Nishi also did the trick, as in these practices, villagers construct gates and block their entry points to ward off evil spirits or epidemic.
Manipur and Tripura were successful in transitioning from the initial stages of contagion to no contagion at all. Manipur, in fact, was the first state from the Northeast to report Covid-19 infection. The mechanisms put in place by the respective governments, coupled with strict vigil at the international borders, helped turn the states into “Covid free” zones.
Mizoram, with inadequate health infrastructure, formed local task forces to tackle the crisis. The collective spirit of the Mizo community that had been demonstrated during the Mautam famine of 1958, has come of use in tackling the current crisis.
In Assam, the State Election Commission had deferred elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council slated for April 4. As an integral part of the Government of Assam, the Department of Health took steps in identifying, isolating and treating the infection. Sports stadiums were transformed into isolation centers; the public-private model has been adopted, whereby private hospitals are sharing the burden of government hospitals. Many public and private hospitals were converted to Covid hospitals.
Nagaland used technology extensively to track travel and exposure risk. In a first, Nagaland’s Mon district launched a mobile app NL_SOJO COVID Exposure Tracking, to track current, previous and future movements, user locations, vital sign information and daily health progress of people in a locality. The app helps to alert authorities when users go outside defined boundaries during quarantine or lockdown and hence provide strict vigil and surveillance to stem the spread. According to Deputy Commissioner Thavaseelan K., this app is now being adopted by local governments all around the world as a fast-track method to ensure administrative watch.

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