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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

In latest strategy to fight pandemic, Mizoram to embark on ‘COVID-19 No Tolerance Fortnight’

Mizoram has recorded zero Covid-19 deaths so far.

Written by Tora Agarwala , Debraj Deb | Guwahati | Updated: October 24, 2020 9:43:37 pm
Currently, out of the 2,387 positive cases, 198 are active in Mizoram— the lowest tally among the Northeastern states. (Representational Image/File)

Starting October 26, Mizoram will kick off a “COVID-19 No Tolerance Fortnight”, the latest among the state’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The strategy involves a slew of measures including awareness activities, restriction of movement in people, and regulation of traffic in a bid to “break the chain of transmission through strict observance of Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) and guidelines.” Defaulters will be strictly fined, authorities said. As per a notification by the Disaster Management & Rehabilitation Department, Mizoram, the “Action Plan for COVID-19 No Tolerance Fortnight” would be observed from October 26 to November 9.

So far, with a positivity rate much below the national average (2.4 per cent), and zero recorded deaths, Mizoram’s Covid-19 management plan seems to have been successful to a considerable extent. Currently, out of the 2,387 positive cases, 198 are active — the lowest tally among the Northeastern states.

Yet, authorities believe that for a small state with limited health infrastructure, precautions are necessary. “The point is that earlier, through contact tracing, we were able to find all the contacts of an infected person,” said Mizoram Health Secretary, H. Lalengmawia, “But of late, it has become increasingly difficult. We can’t tell if community transmission has begun in Mizoram and we are doing this [COVID-19 No Tolerance Fortnight] in order to prevent that.”

According to Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma, State Nodal officer of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), a prolonged lockdown (the state continued its lockdown well into August, even as the country went into unlock mode) has helped in “breaking the transmission chain” and “facilitated contact tracing and field sample collection activities” so far. The state still has a night curfew in place from 8.30 pm to 4.30 am. “We also continue with localised lockdowns if we detect a spread in a particular area,” he said.

On Friday, School Education Minister Lalchhandama Ralte said that all schools and hostels will be closed during the “Covid-19 No Tolerance Fortnight”. On October 16, schools had reopened on a ‘voluntary basis’ for students of Class X and XII, after a gap of seven months. As per a release from Mizoram DIPR, the decision to close schools again was made “keeping in view the imminent spread of the Covid virus among students of Class X and XII, who are to face their Board examinations early next year.”

“However, if the pandemic situation improves and community spread could be contained during the fortnight, schools and hostels are likely to be reopened after 9th October” Ralte is quoted in the release.

Health Secretary Lalengmawia added that the protocol for the fortnight was still being chalked out. “There will be regulated timings for shops, vehicular traffic will be kept in check — apart from the regular guidelines of mask-wearing and social distancing,” he said, “There will be strict fines for the defaulters. In order to assist the law enforcing agencies like the police, 30 per cent of the staff from different government departments will be deployed.”

Added Dr Lalmalsawma,“While things are under control, we cannot let our guard down. For a small state like ours, the pandemic came all of a sudden, so there is nothing like being too careful.”

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