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Lockdown in northeast as Manipur records first case

Special Correspondent GUWAHATI/IMPHAL 26 March 2020 03:18 IST
Updated: 25 March 2020 01:02 IST

Assam MLAs to donate salary for anti-virus fund; Meghalaya introduces odd-even vehicles formula

Assam became the last of the eight northeastern States to go into lockdown mode on Tuesday after a 23-year-old woman from Manipur became the region’s first to test positive for COVID-19 pandemic.

The woman was found infected with the virus on Tuesday morning following a medical examination conducted at a designated laboratory in Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences. Her parents, both college lecturers, and other family members of an upscale locality in Imphal West district have been quarantined with the police cordoning off the house.

U.K. student

Officials in Manipur said the woman, a student of biomedicine at Bristol University in United Kingdom, had arrived in Kolkata via Delhi on March 19. Her 14-year-old brother joined her in Kolkata from Atlanta, U.S. Both stayed in a hotel in Kolkata and arrived in Imphal on March 21 by a flight via Agartala, Tripura.

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Last week, the Manipur government had made a list of 99 people who had arrived from various coronavirus-hit countries and were prescribed home quarantine. The biomedicine student’s name was not on the list.

“She fell sick on Monday and was admitted to the hospital. We have taken away 12 members of her family and others she was in touch with and kept them under close observation,” said K. Rajo, the State’s Director of Health.

Reports suggest she had attended a wedding before she tested positive. The government is trying to get details of the passengers who had travelled in the same flight.

CM’s appeal

Hours after the woman tested positive, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh took to social media requesting the people to shut themselves in for their own good. “Please do not panic and cooperate with the government by extending support to the lockdown. I urge those who returned from foreign countries to honestly declare their travel history,” he said.

FIR against man

The authorities in southern Assam’s Hailakandi district filed an FIR against a man who had arrived from abroad on Monday but did not report his arrival at the nearest police station or health station as had been mandated.

“Departmental action for immediate suspension is also being drawn against the father, who is a government employee, for concealing information,” Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli said.

Members of the family had misled the authorities by saying he would arrive after three days but an inquiry revealed he had already reached home. “He was detained and taken to Silchar Medical College and Hospital for screening,” the district’s Superintendent of Police Pabindra Kumar Deka said.

Officials said 721 people from across the district, who had come from abroad and other parts of India, have been home quarantined with stamping on hands.

Assam MLAs’ gesture

All 126 legislators in the Assam Assembly, cutting across party lines, on Tuesday pledged a month’s pay for a fund set up by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to combat COVID-19.

“We don’t know when the crisis would tide over, and whether we can cope financially. We are yet to devise a mechanism to provide relief for daily-wagers if the lockdown phase needs to be extended. We might have to use the money parked in the accounts for Ujjwala, labour welfare and tea plantation workers’ schemes,” Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The authorities in Meghalaya capital Shillong on Tuesday introduced the odd-even formula for private vehicles to enable people to fetch essentials. Such vehicles bearing even and odd registration numbers would be allowed to move within a limited area on even and odd dates.

The lockdown period in Meghalaya that began from 10 p.m. on Monday would continue till March 29 with a short relaxation of restrictions on March 26.

No newspaper delivery

The All Manipur Newspaper Distributors and Hawkers Association on Tuesday announced that it will stop delivering newspapers to homes and offices till March 31. The decision was taken after a police officer allegedly thrashed a newspaper delivery boy despite the latter displaying his identity card.

Delivery of newspapers is an essential service, according to a government notification on the services to be allowed during the lockdown.

In Assam, the Congress apologised for the views of a party leader who advised staying off newspapers as they could be potential carriers of the novel coronavirus.

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