Health dept moots option of ICR lockdown as Covid-19 numbers continue to surge

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Sep 24: The health department on Thursday held a review meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation, during which the participants reportedly discussed the option of seeking a lockdown or a partial lockdown after a surge in cases in the Itanagar capital region (ICR).

The ICR has recorded 3,053 cases, of which 1,208 are active. 873 Covid-affected people are in state-run facilities, while the rest are in home isolation in the capital.

Changlang, which recorded 729 cases, is the nearest in number to the ICR.

During Thursday’s meeting, the participants opined that, in order to break the chain of transmission, “lockdown or partial lockdown may be imposed for at least two weeks and rapid response team like previous exercise in the month of July-August may be activated again in respective wards of capital complex.”

The health department stated that early detection of cases, early isolation, contact-tracing, and identification of comorbid and symptomatic cases would help in slowing down the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases in the ICR has reportedly overwhelmed the health department here, leaving it lagging behind in contact-tracing, unlike in other districts of the state.

Sources informed that contact-tracing is still being carried out effectively in the districts with lesser population and low numbers of infection. However, in the ICR, the health department is concentrating more on positive cases and the testing centres.

“I tested positive on 12 September. I got no call enquiring about my primary contacts. I got two calls from a doctor, enquiring about my health condition. I did everything on my own, got all my family members tested, considering their safety. Now I am fully recovered and my repeat test came negative,” said a staffer of The Arunachal Times.

Another person who tested positive said that he personally had to call every individual whom he had met prior to the test. He claimed that he did not get any call from the department or the district surveillance team regarding his primary contacts.

On being asked about the discontinuation of contact-tracing by the department, a doctor said, “To a certain extent, it is yes. The new Covid SOP of home isolation and the spike in Covid cases have exhausted all our human resources and energy.”

When contacted, ICR DMO Dr Mandip Perme said, “The state health task force did not issue any order to stop contact-tracing in the capital complex.”

Dr Perme said that, in view of Unlock 4, eight testing centres have been set up in the ICR, such as at the Banderdewa check gate, the Lekhi Covid care centre (CCC), the TRIHMS, Niba Hospital, the Donyi Polo  Ashok Hotel, Heema Hospital, RKM Hospital, and the CCC in the zoo area.

“Accordingly, the positive cases have increased like 100 to 250 plus. Due to the increase in positive cases and limited human resources, and frontline health workers getting infected, it is practically not possible for a few medical staffers to carry out contact-tracing in the entire twin capital,” Dr Perme said, adding that all primary and secondary contacts should get tested voluntarily at the nearest testing centre.

Seeking cooperation from the public, the DMO said that symptomatic people, vulnerable groups with comorbidity, and children should get tested immediately.

It is also learnt that the departments which were supporting the health department in the fight against Covid-19 are gradually withdrawing their manpower.