Agartala: Three months after Tripura reported its first COVID-19 related death on June 9, the state topped the list among all eight states of the Northeast region with a fatality rate of 1.11 percent on September 20 last.
From registering first novel coronavirus positive case on April 6 to a total of 23,789 COVID-19 positive cases at the moment, with 262 deaths and 17,467 recovered patients, Tripura has so far maintained a recovery rate of 73.50%.
Tripura’s mortality rate now stands at the top with 1.10 %, followed by Sikkim with 1.03 %, Meghalaya with 0.79 %, Manipur with 0.63 %, Assam with 0.35%, Nagaland with 0.28% and Arunachal Pradesh with 0.18%. Mizoram is yet to report any single COVID-19 related death so far.
How COVID-19 cases surge in Tripura
“The lockdown was lifted partially on August 5 and the surge in cases started from August 26 last. The survey revealed that from August 9 to 26 of August, a number of social functions had taken place. As per the available reports, around 3,000 marriage ceremonies have been solemnized in this period,” West district magistrate Dr Shailesh Kumar Yadav said.
Among other festivals, Manasa Puja, Ganesh Puja and other social festivals were organized in different parts of the city. A number of political rallies and functions were also organized in the West district recently.
A total of 10 wards under the AMC areas were identified for reporting highest number of cases in the West district.
COVID-19 cases to peak in October warns state core committee
The members of the COVID-19 core committee on August 25 expressed their concern over the sudden surge in cases and said that Tripura is moving towards the high-risk zone with the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. The members warned the virus outbreak would spiral out of control in October if the number of tests were not increased in the state.
Dr Subrata Chakraborty, chairman of the core committee, expressed concern over the recent spike in cases in the West district and said that the procrastination in testing samples and fear of visiting hospitals had caused the situation.
Another member of the committee, microbiologist, Dr Tapan Majumder said that at a time when the number of cases in India is declining, Tripura has recorded between 9 to 10 per cent rise in the last one week.
The members of the committee also said that the doubling rate of coronavirus in Tripura was 31.5 days in comparison to the national rate of 32 days. The cases are increasing at a rate of 3.3 per cent per day in the state. “Tripura will reach its peak of coronavirus cases in October,” Majumder warned.
Classification of health services for COVID-19 patients
In a move to provide better healthcare and improve management of COVID-19 positive patients, the department of health notified parts of two COVID Care Centres (CCC), as dedicated COVID Health Centre (CHC) on August 28 last.
A letter issued by the director of family welfare and preventive medicine Radha Debbarma informed that the parts of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and indoor exhibition hall has been notified as a dedicated CHC for moderate symptom patients.
Opposition leader expresses concern over surge in COVID-19 cases
The CPIM legislative team led by Manik Sarkar, leader of the opposition, on August 28 called upon Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb to discuss on a number of issues including the prevailing situation amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarkar said that the delegation highlighted how the number of novel coronavirus cases is increasing in the state and said that by enlarge the whole of the state is affected. The doctors and medical fraternity have also started calling it a community spread due to the sudden spike in cases.
Speaking further, the opposition leader said that they have suggested the state government to set up testing laboratories in all eight districts and emphasise on setting up a lab in sub-divisional hospitals in phases.
Tripura seeks Centre help to control COVID-19
After the state registered its biggest single day spike in COVID-19 related deaths as 10 persons succumbed to the virus taking the total to 112 on September 1, Tripura government sought support from the union health ministry to combat the COVID-19 situation following which a team of experts visited the state for 10 days.
Four days after the Tripura government sought support from the centre in managing the COVID-19 situation, the ministry of health and family welfare deputed a team of expert doctors to assist in COVID-19 management.
The three experts team, Dr Daisy Panna, Consultant Epidemiologist, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Dr PK Verma, Assistant Prof respiratory medicine, Lady Hardinge Memorial College (LHMC) and Dr Satyajit Sen. Senior regional director (HFW) from Kolkata.
Team of IAS formed top look over management
Tripura government has constituted a COVID management team to supervise the overall health related situation in the state.
The COVID management team comprises eight IAS officers for management, supervision, coordination of health related issues.
The team of officials will be functioning under the supervision of the additional chief secretary, health department in addition to their normal duties in coordination of all health-related issues to COVID-19. The team will directly report to the additional chief secretary”, education minister Ratan Lal Nath said.
Preliminary investigation of the expert team
Central medical team from Delhi in their preliminary inspection observed failure to wear face masks and not adhering to social distancing norms as prime reasons for the spread of COVID-10, informed state law minister Ratan Lal Nath.
A special drive of ‘mask wearing enforcement day’ was carried out on September 18 and 19. People were fined across the state for not adhering to social distancing norms and not wearing face masks.
Tripura HC seeks clarification from state on COVID-19 situation
The High Court of Tripura on September 11 taking note of the state’s deteriorating COVID-19 situation, served notices to the state government asking them to produce details on preparedness.
The High Court of Tripura on September 18 sought further clarification on states’ preparedness and measures taken to fight the novel coronavirus amidst the surge in cases.
The details which the court has asked the state to file additional affidavit with answers include–
i. Number of lab technician appointments in each district.
ii. Amount of fine collected by the state for not using a mask.
iii. Central Investigation Team’s report.
iv. Guidelines, conditions and how home isolation is enforced.
v. Bed per patient available in GBP Hospital.
vi. No. of available ventilators.
vii. Number of oxygen cylinders available.
viii. Number of ambulances with oxygen and other facilities.
ix. Helpline no how frequently used.
x. To consider establishment of Special enquiry cell 24×7.
xi. Whether there is any Complaint resolution system.
xii. Testing per day.
xiii. Positive rate per day.
xiv. Recovery rate per day.
Face mask-wearing enforcement drive
The Tripura government on September 18 and 19 started a two day ‘mask wearing enforcement day’ across the state.
Those who are found not wearing face masks are being penalised Rs 200 in first offence and Rs 400 on subsequent offence. The people can be penalised up to Rs 1,000 for not adhering to the social distancing protocol.
Uproar in day-long monsoon assembly session
The Opposition CPIM legislators protested against for not being allowed to hold discussion on several issues, including the prevailing situation amid the coronavirus pandemic on Monday last.
“We had tried to attract the attention of the government prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. During the all party meeting, we had requested the state government to take precautionary measures against the COVID-19. A delegation of CPIM legislatures also called upon the chief minister but they did not pay any heed to our advice,” Sarkar said.
Chief Minister explains in assembly
Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb in the one-day assembly session on September 23 explained steps taken by his government to fight the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking in the assembly, Deb said that the health department has taken adequate measures to solve the problems related to supply of medicine, equipment and relief operation for the needy.
Tripura is the only state to have conducted door-to-door survey to trace the high risk patients. According to the data of the health department, 18-24 people died in Tripura every day in the last five years, whereas during the pandemic it is 19 to 23 people only. Therefore even as people are dying of COVID-19, the number of deaths is negligible”, Deb said.
He also claimed that those who have succumbed to the virus most had co-morbidity like chronic liver failure, stroke, and cardiac ailments among other diseases. Till September 23, out of the 245 fatalities, 67 percent of them died due to comorbidities.
Politicians react sharply
The former health minister and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sudip Roy Barman alleged that due to massive loopholes, the department has failed to contain the novel coronavirus resulting in the increasing numbers of deaths in the state.
He expressed his concern over the surge in number of COVID-19 deaths in state and said that when Tripura is at par with the national positivity rate, the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) has three times higher rate than the national average, adding, “it can be estimated that at least 650 people would die in the capital city till December if the situation continues like this”.
Pradesh Congress president Pijush Kanti Biswas said that the state government has failed to control the outbreak of novel coronavirus even after knowing the consequences well in advance.
“We had informed the state government and appealed to keep all the retunee in institutional quarantine and test all the incoming passengers to ensure the safety of the people. The state did not taken sufficient measures which resulted in community transmission of the virus”, Biswas said.