Coronavirus (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Itanagar, June 5 : When frontline workers across India and the rest of the world are in an all out war against COVID-19, a government school teacher in Arunachal Pradesh has been voluntarily rendering service to the villagers to curb the spread of the pandemic.

John Panyang, a secondary school teacher at Ruksin in East Siang district (in eastern Arunachal Pradesh), has recently set up a temporary "Screening Centre" at the entry point of Ngorlung-Ralung village near the Assam-Arunachal boundary where he is screening the villagers and people returned from outside the state.

"Panyang has erected the makeshift screening centre in a hut using transparent polythene and bamboo. He is equipped with an infrared thermal scanner machine, face mask, hand gloves and alcoholic sanitizer," a senior health department official told IANS over the phone from Itanagar.

"The teacher on his own purchased the thermal scanner machines, face mask, hand gloves and alcoholic sanitizer to render the voluntary service. He informed us that he got the basic training about the screening method from government doctors, who are also encouraging the initiative," the official said, refusing to be identified.

While talking to IANS over phone, Panyang said that if anyone is found with high body temperature, the person is requested to go to the Ruksin Community Health Centre (first referral health unit) for necessary medical support. "Since I started the screening of villagers on Monday, I have screened 300 people with three of them found with fever." However, all the three people later tested negative for COVID-19, he said adding that he observed that the inter-state boundary area is highly vulnerable to viral infection with wage earners and office goers crowding the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh area.

"Besides the villagers, I have screened people who came from outside the state. Villagers and my friends are also helping me to do the job. Local people of nearby Debing village had constructed ten quarantine huts to facilitate home stay for those people who have been discharged from the government run quarantine centres, he added." East Siang district Deputy Commissioner Kinny Singh appreciated Panyang's voluntary service to the villagers. "I would talk to the gentleman and would try to help his initiative. As the schools are now shut due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the teacher without sitting idle is performing a noble task in this hour of pandemic," she told IANS by phone from the district headquarters Pasighat.

Singh, herself an alternative medicine doctor turned IAS officer, said that the people of the mountainous state are very conscious about the dreaded virus nCoV.

Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,080 km border with China in the north and northeast and 440 km frontiers with Myanmar to the east, has so far found 42 positive cases with 41 active cases. A 31-year-old man recovered from the disease and was discharged from the hospital on April 24. The Arunachal man from Medo village had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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