As the spread of coronavirus is accelerating across the globe, the spread of the pandemic has been slowed down in the newly created Union Territory of Ladakh. It was one of the first regions in India to report positive cases and now it has registered just one positive case in last 15 days. The first two positive cases in Ladakh were reported on March 7 with both the patients having travel history to Iran. At present, there are 15 confirmed cases in Ladakh out of which 11 have recovered. Out of the total 15 cases, 12 are from Leh and 3 from Kargil.

The officials have attributed the halt in the rise of positive cases to the complete lockdown and isolation of villages where suspected symptomatic patients were found. In addition to the isolation and lockdown, the closure of Srinagar-Leh road has significantly helped the administration in limiting the further spread of the virus. However, the region is not lowering its guard. It is focusing on developing health infrastructure and has sought 100 ventilators from the Government of India to meet any emergency.

Officials in Ladakh followed the simple protocol of stepping up the community surveillance so that cases can be traced easily and then the process of isolation and treatment can be initiated. The authorities in Ladakh also ensured proper implementation of COVID-19 measures and guidelines issued by the central government which also helped in containing the outbreak.

In villages, officials ensured proper containment of people within the boundaries of the villages. Containment zones were created and every movement in and outside the zone was closely monitored. Ambulances were placed at every marked exit point at all times. Only small shops were allowed to operate in order to sell basic groceries and medicines. Moreover, the administration has set up 3-4 temporary distribution centers by cooperatives providing ration to the locals on credit, as the cash availability has suffered drastically in the region. Local police and ITBP officials were entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the smooth implementation of the lockdown. Few civil society organizations have come forward to create and distribute free masks to the locals.

But the biggest reason behind the successful case study of Ladakh against coronavirus has been the Ladakhi community. The locals have understood the dangers posed by this deadly virus and have extended full support and cooperation to the authorities in ensuring the smooth implementation of the lockdown.

(Author is Research Assistant at Pranab Mukherjee Foundation. He tweets at Abhimanyushri20)

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