A small Ladakhi village now requires all visitors to wash their hands before they are allowed to enter, according to a news report in the Deccan Herald last Thursday.

Some men in Kargil
Some men in Kargil (Photo by Saurabh Chatterjee in Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The village of Latoo, in the Kargil District of Ladakh, is taking its own approach to fighting the spread of the coronavirus. The villagers posted a sign at the entrance to the community stating in both English and Urdu, “Don’t enter this village without washing your hands.” Latoo has about 40 – 45 houses.

A much longer article on Latoo dated December 2018 describes the difficult history of the village, located on the border with Pakistan, as a continuing series of conflicts with neighboring villages and with the Pakistanis. As a result of their hard-scrabble experiences, the people of Latoo are used to innovative and spur-of-the-moment decision making to protect themselves and their future. Their response to the COVID-19 crisis is characteristic of them.

According to the Deccan Herald, 13 people in Ladakh have so far tested positive for the disease. Feroz Khan, the Chief Executive Councilor for the Kargil Hill Council said, “This is a very appreciable step. People in Kargil are at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus.” Baseer-ul-Haq Choudhary, the Deputy Commissioner for Kargil, expressed similar praise for Latoo in a tweet.