NEW DELHI :
Tucked away in a remote corner of northeast, Nagaland is the only Indian state to have never reported even a single case of the highly contagious coronavirus disease which has now spread across the length and breadth of the country and in most parts of the world.
Although the Nagaland government took several steps like sealing border with Assam and announcing cash incentives for those not returning home from other states, yet the credit for being coronavirus-free also goes to the fact that the hilly state never had a Covid testing lab till last week.
So when a trader from Dimapur reported sick with symptoms of coronavirus in April, he was quickly referred to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital by a private hospital. Guwahati is 280 km away from Dimapur, the largest city in Nagaland.
As the 33-year-old patient, who has since then cured, was tested and treated in the neighbouring Assam, Nagaland's Covid-19 slate remains clean. According to the data provided by the Union health ministry, Nagaland has not reported a single coronavirus case so far.
To discourage those stranded in other parts of the country from returning to their home state, the Nagaland government has adopted a unique way. The state government announced a one-time assistance of ₹10,000 each to all citizens of the state who are presently staying outside if they opt to not return during the pandemic. Around 19,000 people from the state have, however, registered their names for returning to Nagaland.
Having opened a new Covid-testing lab in Kohima last week, the state government is now struggling to open quarantine facilities for those who are returning home with the gradual opening of train and flight services. Those returning from red zones are being screened at Dimapur or Kohima and placed under 14 days institutional quarantine.
Besides Nagaland, the union territory of Lakshadweep has also remained free from coronavirus so far largely because of its geographical isolation as an archipelago.
The tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim, bordering West Bengal, had managed to keep itself virus free until yesterday when a young student who had gone to Delhi to prepare for competitive exams came home following relaxation in lockdown restrictions.
The 25-year-old student, who hails from the tourist town of Rabangla, took a private bus from New Delhi to Siliguri last week from where he boarded a government-run bus to come to Sikkim. During quarantine in South Sikkim district, he reported fever and other coronavirus related symptoms. Later on, he tested positive.
There were 12 other co-passengers in the bus with him, all of whom are now under quarantine. Sikkim government's plans to reopen schools and colleges from June 15 might also be in jeopardy now if further Covid-19 cases are reported.
As compared to other regions of the country, northeastern states have fared well. Having reported only one Covid case each, both Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have no active cases at present.
Assam remains the worst affected in the region with 329 cases being reported so far. Tripura has reported 189 cases, Manipur 29 and Meghalaya 14, according to latest data from the health ministry.