Meghalaya has the lowest number of Covid-19 positive cases among the other states in India with 46 cases. The government took a wise decision at every crucial moment and handled the situation very well. Even before the countrywide lockdown, the state government got the message across and the result was that the people got used to lockdown conditions well in advance. The success in controlling the outbreak of COVID-19 in Meghalaya can be said that it is a collective effort from the Government initiatives with the public support. The state recorded its first positive case for COVID-19 on 13 April 2020 after a senior doctor from Bethany Hospital was tested positive. In the aftermath, the state Government has taken an initial step by sealing off all borders including inter-state, inter-district and international border.
The state of Meghalaya though home to one of the most prestigious Hospital in the country i.e. NEIGRIHMS, yet has chosen Shillong Civil Hospital as a dedicated hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, where as NEIGRIHMS hospital is being used to test samples and also treat COVID-19 patients, if the number of active cases increases. Meghalaya Health and Family Welfare Minister, Alexander Laloo Hek assured the citizen that Meghalaya is fully prepared in combating the corona virus and its outbreak.
The state government is well planned in preventing the outbreak of COVID-19 by giving preference to quarantine all returnees for 28 days in Institutional, Community and Home Quarantine Center depending on their result. The state government has also launched the largest ‘Corona Care Centre’ and the ‘Quarantine Facility’ in Meghalaya at IIM, Shillong with a total capacity of holding 258 patients. Chief Secretary M.S Rao informed that Meghalaya has over 3,227 beds available for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Meghalaya saw over 16 thousands returnees both students and working individuals from across the country coming back to their respective homes. To facilitate the returnees, the government of Meghalaya has also set up two temporary camps in Guwahati Railway Station and Guwahati Airport. The government has made sure that no parents or relatives shall pick up their kin, instead all returnees are ferried by Government owned vehicles to their respective district where the samples are collected for further testing. All the returnees are being kept for the first three days in Institutional Quarantine Centre and if they are tested Negative they are sent to Community Quarantine Centre which is being managed by traditional heads such as Dorbar Shnong in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Nokmas in Garo Hills.
It is a fact that the State Government cannot accommodate all the returnees in the government own quarantine centre, hence it is the citizens of the state led by the traditional heads ensures that all the returnees are being quarantine with supervision so to prevent outbreak in the community. These community-driven quarantine centres’ ensures that those returning from other states receive a homely treatment.
General Secretary of Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri Hynniewtrep (SKNSKBH) R.L Blah which is a lead body to supervise the community quarantine centre especially in East Khasi Hills and Shillong said that the state Government with the initiatives from the respective Deputy Commissioner (DC) from all districts in the state along with the traditional heads have come up with over 645 active community quarantine centres in the state, with each centre having five to ten isolation beds and big centre’s with 30 beds.
"Since time immemorial, even before the British rule, the Dorbar Shnong and the traditional governance bodies have been active. The great thing with these traditional institutions and system is that they bring in manpower, like bringing volunteers," R.L Blah, the General Secretary of Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri Hynniewtrep (SKNSKBH) which is a top body of traditional chiefs comprises of Rangbah Shnong from various locality in the state.
R.L Blah informed that so far, the community quarantine centre has been able to mobilize over 24,000 strong volunteer forces (man power) to supervise and assist the state government and Health Officials in battling the outbreak of COVID-19 in the state. The General Secretary of Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri Hynniewtrep (SKNSKBH), the state government and the autonomous council will help them with logistics. When a young woman from Mawtharia village East Khasi Hills contacted the disease, the 'dorbar shnong' or ‘village committee’ has taken it upon itself to provide food, water and other essential commodities to the home quarantined families by maintaining social distancing ensuring that they are not stigmatized. This is an example of how ‘Traditional Institution’ can come to the rescue in times of emergency. For this purpose the dorbar shnong of Mawtharia was able to gather volunteers from around the villages to help the family during quarantine periods with close monitoring by the health officials.
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