Imphal: Considering the need to establish a separate place for street-based drug users amid the COVID-19 epidemic, the Manipur government has now set up a special isolation centre in Imphal West district for such people who are COVID-19 positive and are asymptomatic.

The special COVID-19 isolation centre will be managed by the social welfare department in collaboration with some NGOs.

The step was taken following a drug user, who tested positive for COVID-19 during a mass testing drive, went missing from the RD Wing Lamphelphat COVID-19 care centre on Tuesday.

Later, the patient — identified as MD Chesam Feroz, 35, — was found at Khelakhong area by a team of social welfare department officials and some NGOs and local clubs on the same day.

So far, Feroz is the lone inmate at the special isolation centre for further treatment, said social welfare director Ngangom Uttam Singh.

For symptomatic COVID-19 patients, the state health department has worked out a mechanism, he added.

Also read: Manipur: Curfew imposed in Koide area of Senapati as 150 test COVID-19 positive

Earlier, health director Dr K Rajo Singh had instructed all the chief medical officers, medical superintendents and medical officers in charge of COVID-19 care centres to identify and earmark a separate unit in their respective hospitals or centers for the treatment of COVID-positive substance users. Their treatment should be supported by the district DACO concerned and the staff, he added.

On Monday, considering drug users are among the most vulnerable sections of society, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government conducted mass testing of COVID-19 for street-based users in Imphal.

Organised by the social welfare department in collaboration with FINGODAP-Manipur chapter and Drug Users’ Federation for Human Rights and Justice, a total of 33 drug users, including four women affected by substance use disorders, turned up at the camp.

Of the 33 users who underwent RT-PCR testing for COVID-19, a drug user was found to positive for the virus.

“We are planning to carry out a similar COVID-19 testing for street-based users on Saturday as well. If more users are found to be positive, they will be transferred to the centres accordingly,” added Singh.

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