At least three states in the North East – Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim – prohibited entry to domestic tourists on Monday in an attempt to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the region. Earlier this month, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Sikkim had barred the entry to foreign visitors as a preventive step. India has confirmed that 114 people have been infected with the virus in the country so far.
“Health of our citizen is top priority,” tweeted Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. “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.”
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who held a meeting with top officials on Monday evening, announced that issuance of the Inner Line Permit to gain entry into the state will be suspended. “Educational institutions in Nagaland will remain close[d] till April 12,” Rio tweeted. “Non-essential official gatherings deferred. Issue of ILP suspended. Entry of tourists remains barred. I urge everyone to take steps for self-protection and not to panic.”
The Inner Line Permit is a document required by foreigners or non-local Indian citizens to enter places designated “protected areas”. In the North East, it currently applies to Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and most of Nagaland.
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang also declared that entry of people, including tourists and migrant labourers from other states, will be prohibited from Tuesday onwards. Tamang added that those who were already in the state had to leave immediately, Hindustan Times reported.
Tamang said three out of five entry points were sealed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These points included two that connects the state with West Bengal and one with Nepal. “Only goods vehicles carrying essential items and food from West Bengal will be allowed through the Melli and Rangpo entry points but screening will be intensified,” he added.
The central government’s tally of 114 positive cases included 97 Indians and 17 foreigners. Thirteen of these people have recovered, and been discharged from hospitals, while two died – one each in Delhi and Karnataka. India has announced that passengers from all 27 European Union countries, all four European Free Trade Association member nations, Turkey and the United Kingdom will not be allowed entry into the country between March 18 and March 31.