Paramilitary forces contribute sizeable chunk to Covid-19 cases in Northeast
All states in the region have boundaries with other neighbouring nations and several of them are also battling insurgency and heavy deployment of armed as well as paramilitary forces are common in most of the seven states.Updated: Aug 07, 2020 16:05 IST
Personnel from various paramilitary forces deployed in the north-east have contributed to a significant chunk to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) viral caseload in the region, comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim.
All states in the region have boundaries with other neighbouring nations and several of them are also battling insurgency and heavy deployment of armed as well as paramilitary forces are common in most of the seven states.
The north-east has recorded around 68,000 Covid-19 cases to date.
Assam tops the region’s viral caseload with 52,817 Covid-19 cases, followed by Tripura (5,743), Manipur (3,217), Nagaland (2,580), Arunachal Pradesh (1,948), Meghalaya (990), and Mizoram (539).
“In Nagaland, over 40% of the total Covid-19 cases are detected among the personnel of paramilitary forces. We held a meeting with various security forces on Thursday, where they themselves decided to reschedule the entry of their personnel to the state until September or such time the situation stabilises,” said Abhijit Sinha, principal secretary (home), Nagaland.
Of the 2,580 positive cases detected in Nagaland until Thursday, 1,117 were from paramilitary/military personnel.
While testing is done by the state health department, the Covid-19 patients’ management is done by the paramilitary forces themselves.
Faced with an increasing number of Covid-19 cases among paramilitary forces, the Mizoram government on Tuesday imposed a ban on the entry of the security forces personnel to the state until August 15.
Around 250 of the total 539 Covid-19 cases in Mizoram are from paramilitary forces.
The development came a day after Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to temporarily withhold inter-state movement of paramilitary personnel in August to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the state, whose healthcare infrastructure is less than basic.
“A large number of Covid-19 cases have been detected among paramilitary forces in Manipur. The government has regulated the entry of paramilitary forces into the state and those who enter will have to follow the Covid-19 safety protocols,” said Manipur health minister L Jayantakumar Singh.
Of the 3,217 Covid-19 cases detected in Manipur until Thursday, 536 were from security forces.
“Since we share a border with China, we can’t stop the entry of paramilitary or defence forces to Arunachal Pradesh because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we are conducting rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests of all those security personnel, who is entering the state,” said Arunachal Pradesh health minister Alo Libang.
Those found asymptomatic are sent to facilities managed by paramilitary forces, while the symptomatic Covid-19 patients are shifted to government-run hospitals, he added.
In Arunachal Pradesh, of the total 1,948 cases detected until Friday morning, 738 were from the military and paramilitary forces.
“Meghalaya also has seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases among paramilitary personnel, including 80% of them have reported to the state’s viral caseload to date. We are conducting RAD tests in all the six border entry points to the state,” said Meghalaya health minister AL Hek.
Until Thursday, 248 personnel from various armed forces have tested Covid-19 positive in Meghalaya, including 201 from the Border Security Force (BSF) alone.
Indian Army and BSF officials in Assam failed to provide details of Covid-19 cases detected among their personnel in the north-east’s most populous state.
According to Assam Police’s additional director-general of police (ADGP) (law and order) GP Singh, 2,078 personnel from Assam Police has been found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, until Thursday.
While 1,495 of them have recovered from their viral infection, five have died due to Covid-19.
Of the 5,743 Covid-19 positive cases detected in Tripura until Thursday, 306 were BSF personnel.