Connecting Regions of Asia.

Covid Faces Himalayan Barrier: Far-flung region benefits from distance

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Less accessible north-east and Himalayan regions of India have put up a better fight against Covid-19 than most of the mainland states.

With the recovery of the second Covid-19 patient in Tripura on Saturday, four of the eight northeastern states- – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim and Tripura – have become coronavirus free.

The most accessible state of the region, Assam incidentally leads the tally of most number of Covid-19 cases with 36 people testing positive, followed by 11 in Meghalaya.  Nagaland and Mizoram have one case each.

In the north, Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir the total reported cases of coronavirus as on April 27 is 494. Nearly one-fourth of them have been cured and sent home, which is higher than the country’s recovery rate of about 20 percent. So far only 6 persons have passed away. In Ladakh, 14 out of the 20 cases have been cured.

Among the other Himalayan states Uttarakhand has 48 cases and Himachal Pradesh has 40. Cure rate is also high in these two states.

Connectivity hardship and less density of population, apart from stricter adherence to the lockdown rules by the locals, in these hilly regions came in handy in the battle against the deadly virus, which has so far affected 26,917 people in India.    

“The inaccessibility has proved to be a natural barrier against the virus, which spread through social closeness,” said a senior health official in Assam.  

Small population and less mobility helped the mountainous region to keep the epidemic at bay, he added, pointing out that it was because of the same region rural India is faring better in the battle than its urban counterparts.  

According to government officials, 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) and swift quarantine of those who came back from rest of the country also helped the Northeast stem the spread of the virus.

Another striking feature, according to central government assessment, is that the people of these states and union territories have followed the lockdown norms better.

An official press release quoting Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said that the ongoing lockdown in the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim, has been effectively enforced.

Home minister Amit Shah praised lockdown enforcement in Jammu and Kashmir.

Flanked by high mountains, most areas of the hilly regions have very less interactions with the outside world and are sparsely populated. This makes them a pretty safe place to ride out a pandemic.

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