How NE states tackle coronavirus with border gates shut

With 90% international borders, NE states go extra mile to tackle coronavirus 

A bus of Assam State Transport Corporation being cleaned as a precautionary measure on Sunday. DH photo

Sharing 90% of its borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan and the Centre taking steps for cross-border trade, the fear about coronavirus has gripped the Northeast more, with the state governments going an extra mile to tackle the situation.

The land custom stations have been closed, border markets situated close to China, Myanmar and Bangladesh borders have been shut to prevent the possible spread of the virus from people visiting the markets.

The border gates with Myanmar in Manipur and Mizoram have been closed and movement of people from across the borders has also been prohibited. People from India and Myanmar are allowed to travel within 20 km on both sides as per an agreement of the government and this has increased fear of the people living close to the borders.

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Manipur and Assam also shut schools as a precautionary measure.

The region, however, has not reported any case of COVID-19 as yet.

Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a large porous border with China and Myanmar, was the first to close the border markets and also stopped issuing protected area permits to foreigners visiting the state. The permits are issued to foreigners under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system.

Mizoram became more proactive and decided to cancel issuing ILP, except those transporting goods. This triggered panic among locals, who went on a buying spree fearing the shortage of essential commodities.

The fear about the spread of the virus gripped Assam after a US tourist, who visited the state from February 22 to March 2 was found infected with the virus in neighbouring Bhutan. More than 400 people, who came in contact with the tourist and his partner in Assam, were quarantined but none was found infected with the virus.

Assam government on Sunday issued a directive to shut all schools, colleges, universities, gyms, swimming pools and movie halls till March 29 as part of its preparation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Assam chief secretary Kuma Sanjay Krishna told reporters here that the decision was taken as a precautionary measure but urged people not to panic and take preventive measures.

Assam government earlier asked all agencies to take preventive measures such as keeping watch on ferry passengers, in shopping malls, maintain hygiene in fish and meat markets beside others.

The state government also asked everyone to keep a vigil on people who returned from the countries where Coronavirus cases and deaths were reported.

The government, however, has not shut the tourist spots saying the same would be done if the situation deteriorates.

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