Kohima: The Angami Youth Organisation (AYO), the apex youth body of the Angami Naga tribe, on Thursday urged Nagaland‘s medical fraternity to come up with clear directions on burial of COVID-19 victims in consonance with the traditional burial practices of the people.

With a “massive” increase in COVID-19 cases, it said that there is dismay and panic among the people as the “fear of the disease and an uncertain future haunts” them.

According to the youth body, one of the important concerns that needs immediate attention is to do away with the stigma associated with the pandemic.

Through its president Kekhrie Pfukha and joint secretary Keneilhoulie Theunuo, AYO said that the stigma around COVID-19, in the present context, has led to several incidences of families not willing to perform burial of bodies of coronavirus patients fearing contamination, and colonies and villages denying burials within their jurisdiction.

In this regard, the youth body urged the medical fraternity to come up with clear “do’s and don’ts” which are in consonance with the traditional burial practices, “so that the dead can be given a safe and dignified burial at any given place without any jurisdictional concerns”.

It said that the stigma is also preventing people with possible COVID-19 symptoms from getting tested and seeking timely treatment due to the fear of being scorned by the neighbours, community, and so on.

It suggested the need to raise awareness of the disease to prevent stigmatization, and that helpline numbers, easy to use mobile applications and dedicated portals be created preferably in local dialects, providing information such as the nearest testing facilities, safe and dignified burial practices, benefits of early treatment, and all other necessary information.

Also read: Nagaland: 3 Axis Bank branches in Kohima sealed for 48 hours amid COVID-19

The youth body also appealed the state government to accelerate the vaccination drive with utmost transparency. Further, it urged the government to put in place sound policies and solutions at the earliest so that livelihoods are not threatened, and the future of students are not compromised due to the lockdown.

Furthermore, it appealed the business community not to sell essential commodities at exorbitant rates.

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