Covid-19 pandemic moving to NE States

After metropolitan cities and peri urban and rural areas, the covid-19 pandemic is shifting towards North Eastern States. While in Mizoram, all districts are showing a rise in new cases, Nagaland has shown a sharp increase in daily cases (15-20 per day to 300 per day) and weekly positivity rate (1% to 34%).
Similarly, in Assam, Kamrup (Metropolitan) is contributing almost 45% of the daily new cases, while in Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills and Righboi are reporting sharp increases in daily cases. the statistics came forth during a review meeting chaired by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and the 8 States of the North Eastern Region.
During the meeting Manipur’s recovery rate and case fatality rate (CFR) of more than 1% was highlighted as a matter of concern. Sikkim was advised to strengthen community surveillance and ensure strict monitoring of home quarantine to address its high CFR. In Arunachal Pradesh, ICU occupancy is almost 22.5% while Capital complex and Changlang districts are reporting maximum cases.
All districts of West Bengal are showing a steep increase in positivity rate. Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Nadia were flagged as districts of concern. In Tripura, there has been a steep rise in positivity from 1.3% in April to around 8.7% now. West Tripura, Unakoti, South Tripura were flagged as districts of concern.
“There is a new emerging trend in the country that now the smaller States are showing an upward trend and there is a need to be cautious about this trend. The States should focus on increasing testing in a timely manner along with upgrading the health infrastructure. With changes in guidelines, more and more of antigen tests can be done now, so that mortality rates can be decreased. There is a need to focus on peri urban and rural areas significantly," said Harsh Vardhan.
Dr Sujeet K. Singh, Director National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) presented an overview of the covid-19 trajectory in the States. “There should be ramp up of RAT testing and vaccination in rural areas as the spread is now going to pockets in the North East which are difficult to reach in terms of geography. The rise of positivity to more than 33% in some pockets was noted as a point of particular concern as it indicates high transmission in belts that are underserved by the country’s health network," said Singh.
“There is a need to properly monitor home quarantine cases and enhanced surveillance for ILI/SARI cases to curb high CFR in certain Hill States," he said.
Vikash Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health) presented on the optimal and judicious use of vaccine doses. All the States, barring Tripura, has had a lower coverage of healthcare workers and frontline workers (HCW/FLW) than the National average (90% and 82% respectively).
In the 45+ age-group category, Meghalaya (28%), Manipur (26%), West Bengal (25%), Assam (23%), Nagaland (22%) had a lower coverage than the National average (32%). States were advised to ensure complete utilization of available vaccination slots for 45+ age-group/HCW/FLW with awareness campaigns for conveying the importance of completing vaccination.
State administrators were advised to reduce vaccine wastage; Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland had clocked substantial wastage and were advised to retrain their staff to achieve minimum wastage.
A 2/3-member team to be constituted at State level to regularly coordinate with manufacturers for timely supplies of vaccine through ‘Other than Govt. of India channel’ on the lines of the team operating at Union Government of India level. This 2-3 member team would also coordinate with private hospitals. The list of private hospitals in these States along with doses contracted and supplied have been already shared with States.