Northeast India was a region which was almost converted into a green zone in the month of April and the Center; had given an example of the region to other states and had asked them to follow the model as the northeast was able to contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, from the month of May, there has been a sudden spike in the cases which has affected the region and the state governments are yet again coping with the crisis.
The northeast part of India was earlier dealing with COVID 19 pretty well and the Central government had also hailed the states in terms of handling the situation. As the country was entering the third phase of lockdown, the Northeast had almost become the green zone, with a handful of cases which were reported. However the scenario suddenly changed in June with a surge of cases with more than 5000 cases and Assam leading followed by Tripura, with Manipur not far behind. A large part of the surge is due to the return of the migrants to their respective states after the inter-state borders were opened. Assam has presently become the most affected state in the northeast with the other states also witnessing a significant rise everyday.
Inb Nagaland the cases spiked up and coincided with the migrants returning home. As per the officials the opening of inter-state borders which led to the return of around 10,000 people to the state and they were transported by transports organized by the state but some also came by their own means. The officials also mentioned that they had planned that they would organize the return in a systematic manner so that they would have been received with proper measures. The Nagaland government had in between ramped up the facilities along with health infrastructures during the lockdown phases.
There is also another factor which is of the investments both private and government which had not been so smooth since the time of independence in the northeast region as compared to other cities of the country.It is very recently that new medical colleges have been sanctioned. This has made it difficult for the state to cope with this crisis. Earlier Nagaland was sending samples to Assam and Manipur for testing purposes. However, a few days ahead of the arrival of the migrant trains, the state inaugurated its first Biosafety Level (BSL)-3 lab for testing at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK). There is another BSL-2 lab is in the process of construction in Dimapur and the state has announced that it will be enlisting private laboratories to conduct tests too. The officials added that their main worry has become that of community spread and the quarantine centers are also not following the social distancing norms properly which is also a concern in terms of rising in the cases.
The state of Manipur was the first northeastern state to report a coronavirus infection in March when a 23-year-old student who had traveled to the UK had tested positive. This state also had managed to contain the spread but in May the cases spiked and most of the people were migrant workers who had returned except a frontline nurse from Churachandpur district who was working in the district hospital. However, despite the situation, authorities say that they are confident that the state will be able to deal with the crisis. He said that in addition to the 100 bedded isolation wards at two hospitals, COViD care facilities are also set up in almost all the district hospitals. In Manipur for asymptomatic cases, there is work going on for work is on for converting a school in Imphal West district into a 100-bedded special quarantine center with a ventilator facility. Manipur at present has two testing labs at JNIMS and RIMS.
In Tripura, more than 1,000 cases have shot up out of which 686 have been active patients. While 163 of these patients are from Border Security Force (BSF) jawans, The rest of the patients are returnees from Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and other places, where they had been stranded for two months during the lockdown. Earlier CM, Biplab Kumar Deb had said that a National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) report stated that there has been a spread of the virus among BSF barracks since the border guards failed to maintain social distancing and quarantine norms in their battalions. The state officials mentioned that they have extended their healthcare facilities for COVID-19 patients. They have increased the number of beds in hospitals and also the number of quarantine facilities. The number of people placed under surveillance in the state is far higher. The government is focusing more on home quarantine.
Another issue that has intrigued the doctors and officials in this region is that most of the new cases do not have any travel history besides maintaining minimum or no contact with people who had tested positive. The state of Assam managed to deal with the influx of migrants in a great way. The state had made a mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine for everyone. It could be a railway passenger or a person who has flown in the government has given strict instructions to any individual who wished to return to Assam in the middle of the crisis. The states of the northeastern part of India are taking measures to cope with the sudden surge in coronavirus cases.