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Increase COVID testing, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tells NE States

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has asked four north-eastern States – Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram

Harsh Vardhan

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  13 Nov 2020 1:44 AM GMT

AGARTALA/IMPHAL/AIZAWL: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has asked four north-eastern States – Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram – to increase testing on high risk groups and vulnerable population to check the spread of COVID-19, said officials on Thursday.

According to the officials, Harsh Vardhan, during a meeting via video conferencing with seven States, including the four north-eastern States, said that active cases are on the rise in Manipur and higher positivity in the State is indicative of hidden transmission.

"With 70 per cent of cases concentrated in Mizoram capital Aizawl, the State is witnessing a rise in active cases. Tripura and Meghalaya too are witnessing higher deaths (37 per cent) in the active age groups (45-60 years), which are preventable," the Health Minister said.

Harsh Vardhan advised the States to focus on higher testing, especially in districts with higher positivity rate, mandatory Rapid Antigen Test of symptomatic negatives, focus on high risk groups and vulnerable population for SARI (severe acute respiratory illness) and ILI (influenza-like illness) surveillance which can give indication of infection, increase contact tracing of close contacts of positive cases, proper follow-up and monitoring of those in home isolation, especially the vulnerable groups.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan during the meeting asked the States to focus on three areas — the need to suppress and break the chain of transmission, keeping mortality rate to less than 1 per cent and the need for prolonged behavioural change.

With 356 deaths, Tripura tops the death ratio among the eight north-eastern States at 1.12 per cent. The State has so far registered 31,706 COVID-19 cases of which 30,185 have recovered. The State's recovery rate presently stands at 95.27 per cent.

Mizoram, which registered the first COVID death on October 28 and the second earlier this month, has so far recorded 3,242 positive cases, of which 2,688 have recovered. The State presently has 552 active cases. Of the total cases, including 830 women, 2,290 people were from Aizawl district alone.

In Meghalaya, 10,368 people have so far tested positive for Covid-19 while 94 people have succumbed to the disease.

In Manipur, 20,950 people have been affected by the virus of which 202 have died.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told the meeting that in the beginning, the State was doing extremely well in containing the virus.

"However, the State started witnessing a sudden spike in the number of positive cases after thousands of native Manipuris returned to the State in Shramik Special trains," Singh said.

Tripura Education and Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath told the media in Agartala that Harsh Vardhan has appreciated the State government's COVID management.

Mizoram Health and Family Welfare Minister R. Lalthangliana said in Aizawl that he has urged the Health Minister to increase the financial support to the state government to deal with the COVID-19 situation. (IANS)

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