16 July 2020
India is just one step away from reaching one million Covid-19 cases — the total cases in the country currently stands at 9,36,181. But one union territory has remained coronavirus-free so far — Lakshadweep.
It is the only region in India that does not feature in the health ministry’s list of Covid-19 cases, and such is the confidence of the Lakshadweep administration that it has recently sent a request to the central government to allow schools to reopen even as most other states are still balking at the idea.
The union territory with a population of just 64,473 has managed to keep the SARS-CoV-2 virus at bay through a number of measures — strict access control, long quarantine periods and comprehensive symptomatic testing within its perimeter.
The UT administration has so far tested just 61 people — all according to the protocol set by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for testing people with symptoms of influenza-like illnesses or severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).
All of them came negative, says Dr S. Sundaravadivelu, Health Secretary, Lakshadweep. Thanks to the early and elaborate checking routine instituted in Kochi, Kerala — the “mainland” on which this tiny group of 36 islands (of which only 10 are inhabited) depend for everything, from essential supplies to healthcare.
Flights and ships to the archipelago also operate from Kochi, which is why it was the focus of the Lakshadweep administration very early on.