Covid-19: With fewer cases so far, North-east stays on maximum alert
Talks have taken place with private hospitals to take up the treatment of all non-coronavirus patients, for which the state government will compensate private entities.
At a time when other Indian states are experiencing a daily increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, the seven states of the northeast have been relatively resilient—at least until date.
Apart from one patient each in Manipur and Mizoram testing positive for the virus, the other states of the region—Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh—have so far been free of the disease.
Even so, health authorities in the region are leaving nothing to chance and putting in place measures to tackle a possible worsening of the situation. Each state has initiated steps to implement the 21-day lockdown, ramp up healthcare facilities, ensure supply of essentials and prevent the spread of misinformation.
Assam started building a 1,000-bed quarantine facility at a stadium in Guwahati on Thursday with a similar one planned in another stadium in the city. The state will soon convert all major government hospitals into exclusive facilities to treat Covid-19 patients. Construction of a large hospital exclusively for coronavirus patients is also being discussed.
Talks have taken place with private hospitals to take up the treatment of all non-coronavirus patients, for which the state government will compensate private entities. One of the largest private hospital groups, GNRC Hospitals, has pledged to reserve all its 500 beds for treatment of non-Covid-19 cases.
Final-year medical and nursing students will be enlisted reinforce healthcare staff. Recruitment process of ward boys and girls is being speeded up so that they can start work soon.
“We have prepared a training module on coronavirus for them which will be imparted from this week,” health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday.
While officials have been asked to enforce lockdown sternly, arrangements are being made to provide essentials including groceries, vegetables and medicine.
The region’s first Covid-19 case was reported from Manipur when a 23-year-old student, who returned home from UK last week, tested positive this week. At present, 190 persons are in government quarantine and 151 others are under surveillance in home isolation.
On Thursday, chief minister N Biren Singh said the state government has already handed over a month’s supply of rice to MLAs and district authorities for distribution among the public.
A 50-year-old pastor who returned to Mizoram after a trip to the Netherlands was the first Covid-19 positive case in the state and the second in the region.
Mizoram was one of the first states in the country to seal its international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh as well as ban the entry of those from outside the state, both Indians and foreigners.
In Arunachal Pradesh, chief minister Pema Khandu announced on Thursday that the state’s lone medical college hospital will be converted into a facility to treat Covid-19 patients exclusively.
“We have to be well prepared for any kind of mass outbreak of the disease. Therefore, it is but necessary, for us to have a separate hospital with adequate facilities to handle the pandemic,” said Khandu.
The state government has announced the release of Rs1,000 each to all below-poverty line (BPL) card holders in Arunachal. Regular talks are underway with the Assam government to ensure there is no disruption in transport and supply of essentials.
In Tripura, the government has converted 18 buildings that included of 12 public rest houses, four Primary Health Centers ( PHC) and two guest houses into quarantine centres and hospitals. There are nearly 60 beds in the isolation wards in different locations. Fifty ambulances were launched recently for emergency health services.
From Thursday, community kitchens set up by the state government started distributing ‘khichdi’ twice a day to poor and homeless people during the 21-day lockdown.
Like several other states in the region, the Nagaland government has also identified facilities at Dimapur and Kohima to exclusively treat Covid-19 patients and quarantine those with symptoms of the disease.
“The government of Nagaland is leaving no stone unturned to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” chief minister Neiphiu Rio tweeted on Thursday.
The Meghalaya government on Thursday appealed to Assam to allow easy movement of trucks carrying essential goods after reports emerged that truckers were being stamped and placed under quarantine.