ITANAGAR, Aug 15: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on 15 August exhorted the people to adapt to the ‘new normal’ to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the northeastern state.
After unfurling the tricolour at IG Park here on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, Khandu in his speech said people must adhere to safety measures like hand sanitization, wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing to defeat Covid-19.
The public was not allowed in the venue and the programme was held with only a few government officials, journalists and security personnel. Also, no march past or cultural programmes were organized.
Khandu said the state government has been able to control the spread of the infection with the support of various stakeholders, including frontline workers.
He said the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on 24 March gave the state government time to prepare for combating the disease.
“The Arunachal government utilized the lockdown time to strengthen the health infrastructure in the state,” Khandu said.
“We notified 32 district Covid-19 health centres with 326 beds, 66 Covid-19 care centres with 2,497 beds, 383 quarantine facilities with 13,411 beds, and dedicated Covid-19 hospitals Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) in Naharlagun and the North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM) in Pasighat in East Siang district,” he said.
Khandu said the state government created ICUs in the district hospitals, besides deploying specialized doctors and ventilators in those establishments. It also took a major decision of converting the MLA apartments here into a Covid-19 hospital.
Aggressive testing of samples, tracing of contacts and treating of Covid-19 patients was an effective strategy to contain the spread of the disease in the state, the chief minister said.
One RT-PCR laboratory has been established in Naharlagun and another is being set up in Pasighat. Also, TrueNat and rapid antigen test kits have been dispatched to all the districts, he said.
“As a result of this, Arunachal Pradesh has the lowest Covid-19 positive rate in the Northeast. It ranks among the top six states in the country in terms of tests per million population,” Khandu said.
He said the state government will upgrade 17 district hospitals for Rs 350 crore and tenders will be floated soon.
“We have also started the process of equipping our 24 district hospitals with the best possible equipment and three state-of-art ambulances each. Several ambulances have already been pressed into service in some districts.
“Around 100 specialized doctors, 60 medical officers and more than 400 nurses are being recruited. We are confident that by the next Independence Day, we will have a better health infrastructure,” Khandu said.
He said the state is geared up to take the benefit of the Rs 20 lakh crore Aatmanirbhar Bharat package.
“Our measures for economic revival will be focussed on agriculture and allied activities, including food processing, use of local labour and skills, promoting local manufacturing, supporting entrepreneurs through various banks and gradually reducing our dependence on other states for various requirements,” Khandu said.
As of Saturday, Arunachal had reported 2,607 Covid-19 cases, including five fatalities.
The chief minister also flagged off 10 advanced life saving ambulances for Covid-19.
Altogether 195 Covid-19 frontline workers were also invited to witness the celebration, and were given gift hampers to honour their contribution in the fight against Covid-19.
Governor BD Mishra hoisted the national flag at the Raj Bhavan here and saluted the flag while the Echo company of the 33rd battalion of the ITBP detachment, attached to the Raj Bhavan, presented the guard of honour.
The governor in his address strongly advocated adopting the ‘Vocal for local’ initiative, and urged the people to buy only local products. “This,” he said, “will definitely help the local farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs, which in turn will boost the local socio-economic status.”
He also said that the spirit of unity “must be our strength, teamwork and cooperation our approach, and discipline and hard work our key result areas.”
The governor commended the Covid-19 frontline workers on the occasion, and said that it is because of their hard work and dedication that the state is successfully countering the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides the governor’s wife, Neelam Misra, invited medical officials, police personnel and officials of the Raj Bhaven participated in the celebration, adhering to the Covid-19 protocol. (PTI with Raj Bhavan input)