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Coronavirus: After Manipur, Assam, entire Northeast to shut educational institutions

Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have decided to issue a temporary ban on tourist entry. Advisories have been issued by each state government to avoid mass gatherings and maintain social distancing as far as possible. The Northeast has no reported positive COVID-19 case yet.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: March 17, 2020 1:16:32 pm
coronavirus, coronavirus news updates, northeast india coronavirus, schools closed coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak india All northeastern states have issued orders to close educational institutions. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)

Following Manipur and Assam, the rest of the Northeast India — Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura — Monday decided to close educational institutions to prevent a possible outbreak of novel coronavirus. Board exams, however, will be on as per schedule. Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have decided to issue a temporary ban on tourist entry. Advisories have been issued by each state government to avoid mass gatherings and maintain social distancing as far as possible.

While educational institutes in Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura will be closed till March 31, Nagaland’s suspension continues till April 12, Arunachal Pradesh till April 5, and Sikkim till April 15. “This is a precautionary step. All educational institutes will be closed till April 12 — only ICSE and CBSE board exams will continue as per schedule,” said Temjen Toy, Nagaland Chief Secretary. Follow coronavirus LIVE updates

He also added that tourist entry (foreign and domestic) will be banned from the state from March 18.

In an order signed by Toy, it was also stated that “issue of new/fresh Inner Line Permits for tourists shall remain suspended with immediate effect until further notice.”

The Meghalaya Education Department’s notice, signed by D P Wahlang, Prinicipal Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, states that examination centres for MBOSE, ICSE, NEHU, CBSE and other institutions will remain open, since they have exams scheduled. It further advised parents to keep their children away from halls, public parks, tourism sports, pools, hospitals or any other areas that are densely populated.

In Mizoram, following a high-level meeting chaired by Health Minister R Lalthangliana, a decision was made to close all educational institutes including universities, colleges, schools, anganwadis and pre-schools, and public places such as gymnasiums, picnic spots, cinema hall and swimming pools till March 31.

According to the release from the Department of Information and Public Relations, the meeting also appealed to “all Churches through the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitu Committee (MKHC), the umbrella body of various Christian denominations in Mizoram, to spread awareness about preventive measures”.

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Tripura Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar announced the shut down of all state-run and private schools, colleges, universities, cinema halls, swimming pools, gymnasiums to prevent possible spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions will commence from Tuesday, March 17, and will continue till March 31.

“There is no patient found positive with the disease. But we are taking all precautions to ensure we don’t get the disease here. Restrictions will also come into effect on visits at old age homes and prisons,” the chief secretary informed.

Sikkim has announced closure of all schools, colleges and universities, as well as public places such as cinema halls, casinos, pubs and disco, gyms, hotels, mela and festivals till April 15. The decision came following a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) Monday. A notification from the Home Department also confirmed that “the entry of all domestic tourists to Sikkim shall be stopped w.e.f 17th March 2020 to 15th April, 2020.”

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Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh, has now decided to shut all educational institutions, cinema halls, night clubs and weekly bazaars till April 5. In an order signed by Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, the public has been advised “to avoid any social, cultural, political, religious, academic, sports, seminar, conferences, and family mass gatherings (except marriage) till April 5″. All shopping malls have been ordered to be disinfected daily. Chief Minister Pema Khandu also tweeted regarding the blanket ban on tourist entry into the state. “Health of our citizen is top priority. Arunachal has closed its door to tourists temporarily to prevent the possibility of spread of #COVID-19 in our state. Earlier the state had restricted the entry of foreigners in the state” Khandu tweeted.

In Assam, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressed a press conference saying that maximum possible domestic passengers would be screened in airports across the state. “We have facilities to quarantine 2000 people, 507 isolated beds ready, 269 ventilators ready,” he said

While Assam has announced closure of schools, Sarma said teachers are expected to go to school so that they can carry out awareness programs in villagers around the school. Sarma advised the public to avoid large gathering as far as possible, adding that if COVID-19 managed to enter Assam, it would be very hard to manage since the state has so many inaccessible areas.

The Assam government has also announced the suspension of biometric attendance system till March 31. During this period, the attendance will be marked manually in the office registers.

With inputs from Debraj Deb in Agartala

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