Mizoram Covid-19 cases: Aggressive contact tracing behind surge; state govt issues new guidelines; check details

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October 03, 2021 10:13 AM

Mizoram has been facing a larger number of Covid cases and is consistently in the five states with fresh infections alongside bigger, densely populated states like Kerala and Maharashtra.

Mizoram, Covid-19 cases, coronavirus infections, Mizoram infection among children, surge in Covid-19 cases in Mizoram, National Health Mission, Health Minister LalthanglianaMizoram government has imposed new Covid-19 guidelines on Friday. (PTI Image)

Even with national Covid-19 average under control, a small village in Mizoram is facing a disproportionately large number of cases out of which 16 per cent belong to people of the age group between 1-10 years. Prevalence of Covid among children in this town is surprisingly twice that of the national average but with no serious cases.

Eric Zomawia, Director, National Health Mission, Mizoram informed the Indian Express that the outbreaks happened from orphanages and residential schools among those less than 18 years as they are unvaccinated and are fed up with complying to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

Mizoram has been facing a larger number of Covid cases and is consistently in the five states with fresh infections alongside bigger, densely populated states like Kerala and Maharashtra.

Mizoram witnessed its highest single day surge of 1, 846 cases last week and positivity has been hovering around 31,77 per cent much higher than national average of 1.42 per cent. In September the state witnessed 32,000 cases, a 60 per cent rise from August numbers. The state has 8 per cent vaccine converge with first dose while 63 per cent is fully vaccinated. A central team was to be sent to the state to assess the situation, reported PTI.

What explains surge in Covid-19 cases in Mizoram

Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma, State Nodal officer of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and Health Minister R Lalthanglian, both attributed the highest number of cases to aggressive testing and contact tracing in the state. Health Minister Lalthangliana informed that the state has been carrying out mass testing with the aid of police forces, unique to other states to search all corners of the state for cases.

Dr Lalmalsawma said contact tracing is extended to children as well. Also family members of a Covid-19 positive person who test negative are quarantined for three days before conducting another RT-PCR test.

The state is also conducting “active case searches “ at restricted areas by visiting one house to another so that no one is missed. He further attributed the cooperation of people helping them find new cases to the “Mizo ethic” that makes the community disciplined.

Not just the health department but civil society organizations and NGOs that work at local and village level also carry contact tracing and enforcing Covid-related orders . Moreover, prolonged lockdown in the state even when the rest of the country started unlocking as the first wave ebbed, proved to be counter-productive. “It is like a world-record lockdown,” said an official.

The restrictions were so neatly implemented that Mizoram remained the only state in India till October 2020 to have witnessed no fatalities during the pandemic. But the stringent measures resulted in a large part of the population becoming vulnerable to Covid-19 as well without acquiring natural immunity. Lalmalsawma said mass testing in areas shows most people are not “immune” to the virus.

For another official the strict restrictions, keeping containment zones in place for weeks and aggressive contact tracing made people develop a sense of fatigue. The state ordered home quarantine for asymptomatic patients but now with ease in restrictions , home quarantine will be introduced for symptomatic patients as well.

Only silver lining for the state with not adequate health infrastructure was that all cases were mild and fatalities were not much. With 313 deaths, the death rate is at 0.03%. In the first wave, the state had140 beds and 13 ICU beds, informed the Health Minister. It is now 307 beds and 34 ICU beds.

The state also has just one major hospital — the government-run Zoram Medical College with one RT-PCR testing laboratory. Apart from that there is a network of over 400 Community Covid Care Centres and 18 Dedicated Covid Health Centres in districts.

Meanwhile, the state’s Covid Management Committee in a meeting considered its testing strategy and lockdown restrictions. The state government issued new COVID-19 guidelines with a few more relaxations to ease economic and other activities there.

The new order, effective from October 3 till October 16 will allow the re-opening of churches in COVID-19 affected AMC area and also in other parts of the state only on Sunday and Sabbath (Saturday) during daytime with 50 per cent seating capacity. School and other higher education institutions will continue to remain closed but training institutes will be allowed to re-open with 50 per cent seating capacity in the state capital, the order said. Social or public gatherings are also now allowed in AMC area with limited attendees.

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