As Mizoram’s COVID-19 curve continues to show an upward trend, experts in the state have believed that negligence to COVID-19 protocols (COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour) and skipping of sample tests by symptomatic patients during festivities were reasons behind the current rising COVID-19 cases in the state.

State nodal officer of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma said that unlike in the past two years during which Aizawl was the worst affected district, the novel coronavirus has now invaded rural areas after Christmas and New Year, which has manifested that COVID-19 protocols or Covid-19 Appropriate Behaviour were widely neglected during the festivities.

“While Aizawl district used to contribute about 70-80 per cent of daily COVID-19 cases earlier, it has now reduced to only 28 per cent as a large portion of COVID-19 cases is reported from other districts especially from rural areas since the festivities,” he said.

Pachuau, who is also the official spokesperson on COVID-19, said that congregational and mass singing (zaikhawm) and community feasts were held mostly in rural villages during Christmas and New Year, which is believed to be the main reason for the community spread and rising cases.

He said that many residents, who dwell in towns, returned to their villages during Christmas and New Year and such residents could be possible carriers.

To enable the people to celebrate joyous Christmas and New Year, the government had kept the decision whether or not to hold worship service, congregational singing and community feats during festivities at the prerogative of local churches.

While most churches in rural areas held congregational singing and community feasts, only a few churches in towns held the same during festivities.

During a consultative meeting on Wednesday, health officials had pointed out that many symptomatic patients refused to get their samples tested, which could be the reason behind the present spike in COVID-19 cases.

Pachuau believed the Delta variant to be the main behind the present spread.

He said no case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been verified in the state till now.

Pachuau, however, said that there is a high possibility of the Omicron variant being spread in the state as on average about 38 domestic and foreign returnees are tested positive for COVID-19 every day at the lone Lengpui airport in Aizawl.

He said that the results of 95 samples sent for genome sequencing are awaited.

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