In an exclusive conversation with Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that the preparedness of the State for COVID-19 from the beginning and the response of the team to the first case of infection were the two keys reasons for Meghalaya containing the novel Coronavirus outbreak there.
"Meghalaya had started the entire quarantine, isolation process way back on March 16. We closed down schools, tourist entry, State Assembly session, and other places. We had a Corona Awareness Day on March 22 before PM announced the Janta Curfew. All kinds of civil society institutions ensured public awareness," CM Conrad Sangma said.
He recalled the challenge the State faced when the first positive case was confirmed on April 13, that of a doctor, which led to contact tracing of around 6,000 people.
"It was a massive exercise for us to immediately implement. But a lot of work put down from the first case allowed us to contain (the outbreak). We had a lockdown and all primary and secondary contacts were traced and tested. Quick implementation and early curfew models of Meghalaya were key to ensure its under control."
The CM stated that throughout the entire response to COVID-19, the state government has been taking the political Opposition along and into confidence.
"I have been in touch with all the MLAs. In fact today, we had called a meeting at the Speaker level of Opposition and the ruling party to put our heads together to figure out how we should fight (COVID) and move as a team for people of Meghalaya. That sent a very positive message to the people."
When asked about his stand on the lockdown extension, CM Sangma said that any such move needs to be done in a phase-wise manner and Centre needs to "redefine what lockdown means".
"The first thing that we must do is to allow the internal economy in green zones to function. You restrict the movement of people coming from outside. The movement of people across countries shall be delayed. Local economies should start first, then allow phase-wise travel of people," the leader said.