Across China: Epidemic prevention in grassland
HOHHOT, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Whenever guests come, herdsmen in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region will treat them with generous servings of salty milk tea, chatting and enjoying their leisure time.
However, this does not happen when locals are advised to stay indoors and avoid gatherings such as drinking and dining together in a move to prevent infection from the highly contagious novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Police officer Alatanhuyagar and his colleagues did not receive a cup of the traditional Mongolian beverage when they visited a herder's home on the Hulun Buir Grasslands to popularize epidemic prevention and control knowledge.
"Instead, I feel relieved," said Alatanhuyagar, director of a police station in Hulun Buir City. "Local herders have strengthened their awareness of epidemic prevention. Our efforts over the past 40 days are not in vain."
At the beginning of the epidemic, herdsmen living in the hinterland of the Hulun Buir Grasslands did not know much about COVID-19. "Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is so far away from us, and the virus couldn't get here," said Ggintuya, a herder in the township of Amugulang.
On Jan. 26, local authorities set up a special team composed of government personnel, medical workers and police to visit townsmen door to door to popularize epidemic prevention and control information. They also hand out bilingual leaflets among them.
"Local herdsmen didn't take it seriously in the beginning. They still visited each other and gathered in groups to drink, eat and chat," said Alatanhuyagar.
The epidemic prevention team is responsible for over 4,400 herders living scattered in a pastoral area of 2,500 square km, where the internet signal is poor. In early spring, they still brave heavy snow to pay visits to herdsmen's home.
"We have to dig with shovels when our car got stuck in the snow," said Alatanhuyagar.
Their efforts paid off. "We fully understand and are very cooperative with those prevention measures after they came many times to explain how severe the epidemic is across the country," said Ggintuya.
When Alatanhuyagar and his team members visited herdsman Tungsiqin, she gave three homemade masks to each. "Thanks for your hard work. Please take good care of yourselves, too," she repeated.