Aizawl: A state-level expert team on Covid-19 management formed on September 23 has recommended more focus on symptomatic patients, high-risk groups like pregnant women, elderly people and those with comorbid status to prevent high fatality rate.

Team convener Dr. F. Lallianhlira, who is also principal director of state health department, told a news conference on Tuesday that they have recently submitted a 16-point recommendation to the state government that includes revision of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Covid-19 test.

The recommendations also include revision of protocols for home isolation for asymptomatic and mild symptomatic patients, ramping up of health infrastructures and provision of early treatment and better health facilities to symptomatic patients especially high-risk groups.

“In order to address the worsening Covid-19 situation, the state expert team has recommended strengthening of Covid-19 Care facilities like Dedicated Covid-19 Hospital (DHC) and Dedicated Covid-19 Health Centres (DCHC),” he said.

Mizoram currently has only one dedicated Covid-19 hospital, which is Zoram Medical College (ZMC) with 341 beds, including 34 ICU beds, and about 18 Dedicated Covid-19 Health Centres (DCHCs), according to health department.

The expert team also recommended the establishment of Covid-19 care wing in all district hospitals and at least 10-bedded ICU at Lunglei Civil Hospital to cater to the needs of people in the southern part of the state.

To detect more symptomatic patients, the team has recommended the installation of more testing kiosks in at least six localities in Aizawl. Dr Lallianhlira said a ten-day campaign to sensitize people about the use of face masks will likely be organised from October 11-21.

The doctor said initiative will also be taken to identify high-risk groups for close monitoring. 

Recent studies showed that the close-knit Mizo society, reluctant to adopt Covid-19 Appropriate Behaviour (CAB), large presence of highly transmissible Delta variants, massive testing drive, aggressive contact tracing and screening of most suspected persons, among others, have contributed a lot to the sustained rising Covid-19 cases in Mizoram. 

However, some experts are of the opinion that the aggressive use of Rapid Antigent Test kits as the tool for Covid-19 diagnosis rather than RT-PCR facilities was one of the main reasons behind rising Covid-19 cases.  

Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) leader and MLA Lalduhoma had earlier said that the average proportion of samples tested through RT-PCR facility during June to August was a meagre 22.66 per cent against 70.89 per cent of Rapid Antigen Test.

Mizoram has only one Rt-PCR laboratory at Zoram Medical College (ZMC).

Health Minister Dr. R. Lalthangliana said the state would set up RT-PCR laboratories in those districts which are yet to have the facility.

The state government is also likely to receive two RT-PCR mobile vans from the Centre. 

While 21,074 Covid-19 cases were reported in August, a total of 34,263 cases were registered in September, according to the health department. At least 1,655 cases were reported in April, 6,268 in May, 8,093 in June and 18,433 in July, it said.

Despite the health infrastructure crisis, Mizoram still manages to maintain a low Covid-19 fatality rate. The death rate now stands at 0.33 per cent, which is less than the national average of 1.33 per cent. Officials attributed the low death rate to early detection and early treatment.

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