NEW DELHI :
As more Covid-19 infections surface in India, nervousness is rising along the borders.
Arunachal Pradesh has decided to temporarily stop issuing Protected Area Permits (PAPs) to foreigners in an attempt to prevent the epidemic from reaching its borders. PAPs are issued to foreigners to enter the state that borders China.
A government order issued on Saturday said, “It is learnt that Covid-19 positive cases have been detected in India and the numbers have been increasing. It is also learnt that the spread of the coronavirus in India is primarily from visitors, who had history of travelling abroad recently, or through tourists, who have visited India. In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Arunachal Pradesh, it has been decided to temporarily suspend issuing Protected Area Permit."
On Sunday, the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee urged the state government to seal the Indo-Myanmar border to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Union home ministry, which last week said India was well prepared to prevent the spread of Covid-19, on Sunday said that while India’s borders at Wagah-Attari and the Kartarpur corridor would remain open to the public, each person was being screened for the virus.
A Union home ministry official said on Sunday, “The ministry can decide when to close the border. As of now, even the Beating Retreat parade at Wagah-Attari is on as usual, but people are not being allowed to gather in the stadium. Along the border, those who enter India are being thoroughly screened."
Vigil has been stepped up across other north-eastern states as well. While the Assam government has sounded a high alert after a tourist in Guwahati had tested positive for the virus last week, officials at Manipur’s health and family welfare department have also deployed medical officers along the India-Myanmar border.
In a bid to quell fears, the home ministry reiterated that all “precautions are being taken at the Indo-Myanmar border".
India has also set up screening and testing centres along its border with Myanmar, with the Myanmar government too setting up screening centres on its side of the border.
The India-Myanmar border has a free movement regime, which permits tribes living along the border to travel 16km across on either side of the border for trade purposes, without any visa restrictions.
The Union home ministry has also stated that all land ports are fully equipped with medical teams to screen all incoming passengers from neighbouring countries as well.
While the move by the Arunachal Pradesh government comes on the heels of Sikkim also clamping down on the entry of foreigners, with Bhutan recording its first case of Covid-19 last week, the Union home ministry has also assured that full medical check-up points are being set up at international checkpoints in Agartala, where India shares a border with Bangladesh.
Likewise, screening and testing centres have also been set up at the checkposts along the India-Bangladesh border with Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
PTI contributed to this story.