Itanagar, Jun 4 (PTI) Arunachal Pradesh, which was declared coronavirus-free after its first patient got discharged from a hospital here on April 16, has witnessed a spurt in COVID-19 cases, with 37 people testing positive for the disease in just 11 days.
The spike could be largely attributed to the return of migrants from other states, after the Union government eased travel curbs last month, official sources said.
More than 8,000 people have returned to the northeastern state by ‘Shramik Special’ trains, flights, buses and private vehicles over the last few weeks, while another 5,000 were on their way, Chief Minister Pema Khandu had said at a press meet on Monday.
He, however, assured people there was no reason to panic, as his government has put in place a robust mechanism to prevent the spread of the virus in the state.
Khandu, in a recent video message, had said people should be mentally prepared to witness a spurt in coronavirus cases, with more number of migrants returning to Arunachal from other COVID 19-affected states.
“I request everyone not to panic if there is a rise in the number of COVID-19-positive cases in Arunachal. I assure that the state government is well prepared and equipped to handle any situation,” the chief minister had said in the message.
Between May 24 and June 3, the state recorded 37 COVID-19 cases– all of them returnees from other parts of the country. The highest single-day spike was recorded on June 1, after 18 people tested positive for the infection.
The state cabinet, during a meeting chaired by Khandu, has decided to procure more PPE and Viral Transport Medium kits, amid the rise in numbers.
The government has also decided to equip critical entry gates to the state with “in situ testing”, especially for drivers of vehicles carrying essential items.
L Jampa, the state nodal officer for COVID-19, said on Thursday that all cases were reported from quarantine units and medical teams are taking “good care” of patients.
“People have to learn to live with the pandemic.
Wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and cleaning hands repeatedly have become the new normal.
“A three-tier system is in place for treating coronavirus patients. Asymptomatic cases are being taken to COVID care centres, those with mild symptoms to health centres, where doctors would be readily available, and the serious patients to dedicated COVID-19 hospitals,” Jampa said.
Health minister Alo Libang appealed to people stay calm, and follow safety guidelines issued by the government.
“There is no reason to be afraid. People are being requested to support medical teams and the district administration. All active cases in the state are being monitored from time to time. The health department is keeping a close watch on those quarantined, as well as the testing procedures,” he added.
A total of 9,551 samples have been tested in Arunachal until Wednesday night, of which reports of 1,583 samples are still awaited.
The first case was reported on April 2, after a 31- year-old man from Lohit district tested positive for the virus following his return from a religious congregation in Delhi.
After almost six weeks, Arunachal registered its second case on May 24, with the return of a 30-year-old student, also from Delhi.
Thereafter, over the course of the next few days, the state has witnessed at least 36 more cases.