Covid: Mizoram seeks support of community leaders and civil society organisations for curbs
Mizoram, which is observing lockdown-like restrictions since April 20, has started mobilising the support of community leaders and civil society organisations before announcing stricter preventive measures as a substitute for complete shutdown to check the spread of Covid-19 in the state.
During a meeting convened by governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai at the Raj Bhavan in Aizawl on Friday to discuss the Covid-19 situation with leading NGOs, religious leaders, ex-servicemen and journalists, among others, Mizoram health minister Dr R. Lalthangliana spoke about imposing stricter standard operating procedures.
“The restrictions currently imposed do not seem to have broken the chain (of infection). The government will have to enforce even stricter restrictions soon,” an official said, quoting the health minister.
Till Friday morning, Mizoram had 1,123 active Covid cases and 14 deaths. On Thursday, 140 people tested positive and one died due to the virus.
On April 20, Mizoram was the first to announce a near-lockdown in the Northeast, for seven days in Aizawl city and 10 district headquarters following a recommendation from NGOs, academicians and Church leaders in view of the rise in Covid cases. On that day, the number of active cases stood at 414 and the death toll at 12.
Lalthangliana said the series of lockdowns in the state had been effective but since Covid cases are rising rapidly, he admitted the government will have no option but to enforce stricter measures as a substitute for lockdown while calling for continued cooperation from all NGOs, civil societies and churches. These organisations are very influential in the state.
“The good cooperation and good compliance with the guidelines on containment of the pandemic is the reason why the fatalities are as low as 14 till date, compared to other northeastern states. The support from the civil society is a factor that makes a difference in Mizoram,” the health minister said.
Mizoram was the first state to enforce a lockdown, even before the nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020, the first to screen passengers at the only airport at Lengpui, close state boundaries and international boundaries and set up effective task forces at village/local, district and state levels.
These are the reasons why Mizoram was one of the least affected states in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting, which lasted for over an hour, saw the participants, including the NGO and Church leaders, pledge continued support to the state government, assuring to assume a more proactive role in mass awareness on Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Soon after the meeting, the state-level task force on Covid-19 started reviewing the situation to come up with a “stricter” SOP, an official said.
Governor Pillai said Mizoram too was experiencing a rapid rise in cases like elsewhere in the country.
The intention of convening the meeting, Pillai said, was to strengthen and augment the state government’s “proactive measures” towards Covid-19 management and urge the public to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.
“In fact, we are one of the better performing states in terms of Covid cases and deaths. Of course, this has been possible due to the valuable support from the civil society, including the religious bodies and various community-based organisations,” he said.
The governor focussed on urging the participants not to lower their guard and collectively create awareness about Covid-appropriate behaviour such as social distancing, wearing masks properly and frequent washing of hands.
“While these Covid-appropriate behaviours seem very trivial, they are in fact absolutely essential, and they are our only effective weapons in fighting this disease... Persons who neither wear masks nor practise physical distancing have a 90 per cent risk of contracting the virus. Together, we will emerge victorious,” Pillai said.
Neighbouring Assam on Friday too started mobilising the support of community leaders by revising its SOP.