As the second wave of COVID-19 is taking a serious toll on healthcare services across the country, we take a look at the situation in the Northeast.
The Northeast region was among the last ones to report coronavirus cases during the first wave of the pandemic and accounted for the least COVID-19 deaths.
Let’s take a look at the COVID-19 situation in Assam, which witnessed extravagant poll rallies without any Coronavirus protocols in the past couple of months. The state underwent polls for assembly elections on March 27, April 1 and April 6.
According to the state National Health Mission (NHM) data, on April 1, Assam recorded 58 cases of fresh infection. The total case count stood at 2,18,470, the death toll at 1,107 and the positivity rate on the date was 0.47% with 12,253 tests.
Fast forward to April 15, new COVID-19 cases are at 499 and the positivity rate is over 5 times at 2.72% with 18,323 tests.
Positivity rate indicates the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive. It is a critical measure for public health officials because it gives an indication of how widespread the infection is in the area where the testing is occurring—and whether levels of testing are keeping up with levels of disease transmission.
Assam’s total COVID-19 count is at 2,22,367 cases with a total of 1,123 deaths.
In a viral video from earlier this month, the state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said there is no COVID-19 in the state. And there is no requirement for wearing a mask. The video was heavily criticised.
He said, whenever the need to wear a mask arises, he will call for a press conference and intimate about the same.
Prior to Bihu, the Assamese New Year, and other festivals, Assam’s Health and Family Welfare Department issued fresh SOPs, making it mandatory to wear a mask for all visitors and organisers of such festivities. And maintenance of other COVID-19 protocols.
Also, on April 13, the state made it compulsory for air travellers to undergo COVID-19 test at the airport.
Assam attained the peak of inoculation on March 23 by vaccinating 1,27,641 people, when the daily new cases were under 100. However, the number in April is not in harmony with the rising COVID-19 cases. As of yesterday, only 1,544 people received their jabs.
This comes on a day when the state received a fresh consignment of 2 lakh vaccines, against its demand of 19 lakh doses. The state had been left with only 1,12,000 doses of COVID-19 prior to the new stock.
In Tripura, where the TTAADC elections were held on April 6 after several months of delay, in the last 24 hours, 1159 samples were tested of which 27 tested positive, while two persons were released after their recovery.
The total active case stands as of April 15 stands at 332 with a positive rate of 5.13 percent. The fatality rate stands at 1.16 percent with 391 deaths so far.
On April 1, fresh cases across the state were 14 and the total active coronavirus caseload was just 55.
Speaking with EastMojo, state COVID nodal officer Dr Deep Debbarma said, “The number of cases has increased in the last two weeks in the second wave. Though we are in a good position but the numbers are increasing. We have increased the number of tests and contract tracing to bring them under treatment.”
Dr Debbarma added that the health department is prepared to increase the number of beds for the treatment of patients whenever required.
Currently, “The state has 375 beds, including 63 ICU beds for the treatment of patients. If required we will increase the beds across all districts,” he said.
On April 7, a day after the autonomous council elections, Tripura government passed an order for government bodies to curb the spread of COVID-19. It put a cap on participants of official meetings to 20, made face masks and sanitisation once again.
Also, the education minister will be holding a press conference today. It is expected that some announcement regarding educational institutes and board exams will be announced.
Meanwhile in Manipur, only 1 new case of coronavirus infection was reported on April 1, and on April 15, the fresh cases were 18.
On April 9, the Manipur government once again decided to close schools for class VI to VIII with immediate effect until further notice as part of the precautionary measures to counter the second wave of COVID-19 prevalent in other states.
Education (S) Director L Nandakumar Singh issued the above order and said that it applies to both private and government institutions. However, the state allowed physical classes for Class IX to XII by strictly observing the approved SoPs and guidelines of COVID-19 framed by the state government.
Further, the state health department also issued a fresh order on April 15, making it mandatory for all persons entering Manipur, by air or by road, irrespective of the place of origin to produce a negative RT-PCR/TreNat/CB-NAAT COVID-19 test report taken with 72 hours from arrival.
The order is effective from April 18.
According to State Surveillance Officer Dr Somorjit Ningombam, as of Thursday, there are 167 beds in government hospitals, including ICUs, for COVID-19 patients.
The officer said, they are ready to increase the number of beds as and when it is required.
In the Himalayan state of Sikkim, no new cases were recorded on April 1. The total number of cases in the state was 6,235.
On April 15, 41 fresh cases were recorded, taking the state’s cumulative count to 6,497 COVID-19 cases.
The state government of April 12 issued a fresh advisory stating that shops would remain closed over the weekend to curtail the virus. The ruling stands till April 30.
Ration shops and medical shops would be exempt during the weekend.
Further, as per an order on Thursday, testing has been amped up at Rangpo and Melli borders.
On the impact of such testing on tourism, Kapil Meena (IAS), Additional Secretary and Director, Tourism Department, Sikkim said, “Tourist footfall has come down to almost 50% since the introduction of these tests. But more than that, it is the rapid spread of COVID 19 in other states, which may be the reason for tourists keeping away from travels.”
“The flights in Pakyong airport were running in full capacity even a fortnight ago, but now the number of passengers coming to Sikkim has been only about 30-35 people. Similar is the case at the roadways borders in Rangpo and Melli, as no more tourists coming in,” added the minister.
“The stakeholders have understood the scenario now, they have had multiple deliberations with the government as April-May is peak tourist season. But nothing much can be done when tourists don’t come at all. There is no ban on tourists coming as in other states who have induced lockdown protocols, but if they come and have a negative certificate or are willing to conduct tests here, there is no stopping them unless they are positive,” explained Meena.
On April 1, Meghalaya reported only 2 new cases, with which, the active caseload went to 50. The state tally stood at 14,067 cases.
Whereas, on April 15, 97 cases of infections were reported, taking the total number of active cases to 457 and the state’s cumulative count reached 14,582.
In a notification dated April 13, district authorities of East Khasi Hills revised restrictions on gatherings. For religious/social/private event, people equal to 50% of the seating capacity have been allowed.
For places of worship, outdoor sport spectators and cinema halls also, it capped to 50% of the seating arrangement. All shops, bars, restaurants etc have been directed to shutdown by 9 pm.
Further, seeing that COVID-19 protocols are not being maintatined, on Thursday, District Magistrate, East Khasi Hills prohibited the opening of shops, establishments and markets, both in fixed premises or otherwise, in Shillong Agglomeration, on Sundays, till further orders.