It is very encouraging to learn of some indigenous villages in Sylhet that have been successful in keeping coronavirus out of their boundaries. According to a report by The Daily Star on August 9, there have been no Covid-19 cases so far in the 90 indigenous punjis (villages) in Sylhet division, while a total of 8,497 cases were reported and 153 patients died of the disease as of August 8 in the rest of the division. Apparently, the reasons behind the success in keeping this deadly virus at bay are the complete lockdown and hygiene protocols being employed in the punjis by the villagers.
Reportedly, entry to the punjis for outsiders has been stopped since the government announced the countrywide shutdown back in March after the country's first coronavirus case was detected. Residents of the punjis who have been outside have to maintain a 14 day quarantine before they can enter the villages, and not even the relatives of the residents have been allowed in during this time. Everyone in the village has been implementing the lockdown and no one is given any special concession.
For these indigenous communities, isolation from the outside world is also crucial during this pandemic because getting treatment is extremely difficult for them due to a lack of healthcare facilities in the vicinity of these villages. Thus, the villagers have taken all the precautions needed to save themselves from the lethal virus and those measures have paid off.
Sadly, our overall response to the pandemic has been very frustrating as the government itself could not enforce its own directives to contain the spread of the virus and people in general also have a tendency to break the rules. However, it is also true that the economic conditions of the vast majority of people have forced them to break the government directives and carry on with their day-to-day activities, risking their lives. Even so, we think some of the basic rules, such as wearing masks, washing hands when possible, using sanitisers and disinfectants and maintaining social distancing while outside, are quite easy to implement. We should all try to practice them in our everyday life until a reliable medical solution for the disease is found.
The indigenous villages in Sylhet have set an example for us to follow.