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Northeast doing better than rest of India in handling COVID-19: Jitendra Singh

Jitendra Singh

New Delhi, May 20: The proactive steps taken by all the northeastern states, coupled with the liberal support offered by the Centre, has helped the region cope up better with the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the rest of India, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Wednesday.
Singh said the success of the measures taken by the northeastern states is evident from the fact that Sikkim and Nagaland do not have a single COVID-19 positive case till date, while Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram had one patient each, who have since recovered
Meghalaya had 13 cases in a hospital in Shillong due to a foreign traveller. The state recorded one death, but all the others have since recovered, he said in a write up.
Meghalaya is also COVID-19 free now, the Union minister for development of north eastern region (DoNER), said.
In effect, as on Wednesday, five states of northeast India — Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim — are COVID-19 free.
Singh said the biggest state in the northeast, Assam, has a few cases, but the state has handled the pandemic very well and effectively contained it in local areas.
Manipur and Tripura had two cases each, who recovered, and the states were declared COVID-19 free.
However, in the first week of May due to migrants testing COVID-19 positive, Tripura saw a large spurt in cases, particularly in the Central Armed Police Forces, deployed there, he said.
Manipur has also seen five new case in the last three to four days related to migrants.
In fact, the pro-active steps taken by all the northeastern states coupled with the liberal support offered by the central government has helped the region to cope up better compared to the rest of India, he said.
This was made possible due to the prompt response of central and state governments in enforcing strict lockdowns, prompt supply of medicines and equipment through air cargo services and the air force, among others, Singh said.
He also said that quick ramping up of testing facilities and number of testing centres, upgrading COVID-19 related health infrastructure and making available essential supplies to all citizens through the public distribution system and the effective implementation of the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has led to the northeast coping up better with the pandemic.
Giving details about the health infrastructure in the northeast, the minister said Sikkim and Nagaland did not have any testing facility while Assam had just two. Over the period, the number of testing facilities has been extended to all medical colleges in Assam.
The laboratory in Kohima in Nagaland is now functional and in Sikkim TrueNAT testing has started, while a RT-PCR laboratory would be functional shortly, he said.
Singh said that as a result of extension of testing facilities in the region, the pace of testing has increased from 2,931 in the first week of April to 60,063 in mid-May, from an average of 300 per day to 3,800 per day during this period, leading to prompt care and hospitalisations, wherever required.
He said the lockdown measures in all northeastern states were implemented effectively.
Not only inter-state borders were closed by the respective states, but more than 5,000 kilometers of international borders in the region were closed by border guarding forces and the local public, the Union minister said. (PTI)