Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the daily rise in COVID-19 cases in the Northeast and suggested increasing testing in a timely manner along with upgrading the health infrastructure. 

“Now smaller states are showing an upward trend and there is a need to be cautious about this trend. With changes in guidelines, more and more antigen tests can be done now, so that mortality rates can be decreased. We also need to focus on peri urban and rural areas significantly,” said Dr Vardhan while interacting with State health ministers of Northeast. 

Giving data, Dr Vardhan said that 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 percent to 34 percent). There is a need to strengthen testing facilities in peri-urban and rural areas,” he said. 

Dr Vardhan said that in Assam, Kamrup (Metropolitan) is contributing almost 45 percent of the daily new cases. 

Also read: Assam: 89 more COVID-19 deaths and over 6000 new cases recorded, positivity rate improves

“In Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills and Ribhoi are reporting sharp increases in daily cases. Manipur’s recovery rate of 78 percent and case fatality rate of more than 1 percent is also a matter of concern,” the minister said. 

Sikkim was advised to strengthen community surveillance and ensure strict monitoring of home quarantine to address its high case fatality. In Arunachal Pradesh, ICU occupancy is almost 22.5 percent while capital complex and Changlang districts are reporting maximum cases. 

Dr Vardhan pointed towards the new emerging trend in the country. He highlighted that now the smaller states are showing an upward trend and there is a need to be cautious about this trend. 

He asked the states to focus on increasing testing in a timely manner along with upgrading the health infrastructure. The Union Health Minister said that with changes in guidelines, more and more of antigen tests can be done now, so that mortality rates can be decreased. He reiterated the need to focus on peri urban and rural areas significantly. 

Dr Sujeet K. Singh, Director NCDC presented an overview of the COVID trajectory in the States. He suggested the 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. 

Also read: Tripura government forms Corona Crisis Management Groups

The rise of positivity to more than 33 percent 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.  

Tripura Chief Minister – Biplab Kumar Deb, Assam Health Minister – Keshab Mahanta, Meghalaya Health Minister – AK Hek, Manipur Health Minister – Lalpoklakpam Jayantakumar Singh, Mizoram Health Minister – Dr R Lalthangliana, Arunachal Pradesh Health Minister – Alo Libang, Nagaland Health Minister – Pangnyu Phom and Sikkim Health Minister – Dr Mani Kumar Sharma were present in the meeting. 

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