'Total lockdown best medicine against Covid-19': Mizoram CM Zoramthanga

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A complete lockdown is the best antidote to stem the spread of coronavirus, said Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga, with his government enforcing a total shutdown for two weeks from today. The move follows rise in Covid-19 cases in the state and other parts of northeast following return of migrants. In an exclusive interview with Utpal Parashar, Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga informs what necessitated the move.

Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: While the entire country is unlocking, Mizoram has imposed total lockdown. What prompted the government to take that decision?

A: It’s a government decision to impose total lockdown. Previously, we had become ‘Covid-19 free’ with the state’s lone patient recovering. But when returnees started coming from all over, the positive cases started going up daily. In order to contain it, we decided to apply the best medicine, which is total lockdown. The people also want it. For now total lockdown will be for two weeks till June 22.

Q: What’s the total number of Covid-19 positive cases in Mizoram and how many people have returned to the state since the ban on inter-state movement was lifted on May 4?

A: We have a little over 40 Covid-19 positive cases at present. But we think the figure will go further up when more tests are done. Around 10,000 persons have returned to the state till now and we expect few more thousand.

Q: What are the guidelines of the new shutdown? Will the state’s only airport be shut and international and inter-state borders sealed?

A: Mizoram’s international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh as well as borders with other states have been shut for the past two months and will continue to remain so. The shutdown will be more stringent in towns but a bit relaxed in villages, allowing people to work in their fields. Attendance in offices will be less than 50%. The economy will be taken care of. Curfew will be in place from 7:30 pm to 4:30 am. The airport will remain open and all stranded people will have to return by air. We have decided to extend the limit of quarantine from 14 days to 21 days.

Q: Once two weeks gets over on June 22, will the total shutdown be relaxed in a staggered manner or will the guidelines of Unlock 1 come into effect?

A: It will depend upon the circumstances after completion of the two week period. We will make a decision depending on what the Covid-19 situation is at that time.

Q: What about the testing facilities in Mizoram? Has the state government been able to get additional testing facilities?

A: We got a new RT-PCR machine and consumables last week and very soon we will be able to test more than 1,000 samples daily. Right now we are testing just 200-300 samples every day.

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