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Last Updated : Apr 23, 2020 07:27 PM IST | Source:

Coronavirus pandemic | How tribal quarantine rituals helped Arunachal Pradesh become ‘COVID-19 free’

Tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh had implemented their own customary rituals which are equivalent to a lockdown, much before the lone COVID-19 case was reported in the state

Having successfully treated and discharged the state’s only COVID-19 patient, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the few  states in India, besides Goa and Manipur, to successfully fight back the novel coronavirus outbreak.

No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Northeast state since its only COVID-19 patient was discharged from hospital on April 17.

The patient was a 31-year-old man from Arunachal Pradesh’s Lohit district who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in New Delhi's Nizamuddin area in March.


The infection seems to have not spread further in the state. A report by NDTV cites authorities as saying this was possible due to the efforts put in by the team of doctors, frontline health workers and a quarantine regime practiced by indigenous tribal groups when there is such an outbreak.

"We have been able to cure the patient at the district hospital since our medical team was ready. We were prepared. We had sealed our inter-state borders," Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar told NDTV.

While the state did not have any more COVID-19 cases, they are keeping a strong vigil on the inter-state borders and following a very strong sanitisation protocol, Kumar said.

“But there was also the challenge of keeping the local population away from the virus. Here, the indigenous tribal quarantine practice was very helpful," he has been quoted as saying.

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The report suggests that tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh had implemented their own customary rituals which are equivalent to a lockdown, much before the first positive case was reported.

The Galo tribe performed Ali-Ternam, a customary lockdown, to curb the spread of infections. The Adi and Nyishi tribes observed rituals called Motor and Arrue, respectively. These rituals revolve around the concept of self-quarantine, which Kumar said, had “been a major factor” in the fight against COVID-19.

The 14-day quarantine period for most of the 12,000 people placed under quarantine in Arunachal Pradesh ended on April 21.

Meanwhile, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surged to just short of 20,000 at the national level. While 3,870 have recovered, 640 have died.

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First Published on Apr 22, 2020 02:50 pm
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