Two more test positive for COVID-19

More testing to be done: CM

SHILLONG: Two more family members of Dr. John L Sailo Ryntathiang, who passed away on Wednesday, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday taking the number to nine in the state while the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, said that the entire government machinery was working overtime to fight against the spread of the disease and that more testing would be done.
A statement issued by Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department on Thursday, however, said that none of the doctors, staff or in-patients at Bethany Hospital here have tested positive so far.
Sailo was director of the hospital and passed away there on Wednesday.
The statement said 382 individuals, including 218 doctors, staff and in-patients of the hospital have been tested since Sailo was detected as the first positive patient on April 13.
It said all doctors and staff who have tested negative are being kept in various quarantine facilities across the city. They will continue to stay there for another two weeks after which they can go home. If they develop symptoms during this period, they will be re-tested.
The Health and Family Welfare Department has already contacted the remaining 200 medical staff, who are in their respective homes under home-quarantine. Of them, about 50 are identified as high-risk contacts and they will all be tested. These individuals will be brought to the designated quarantine centres and samples taken. If they test positive, they will be taken to the Civil Hospital, which is a COVID-designated hospital. If tested negative, they will be kept under quarantine for 14 days.
For the remaining 150 low-risk medical staff of the hospital, who are under home-quarantine, only symptomatic cases need to be tested as per the protocol adopted. These symptomatic individuals will be brought to the designated quarantine centres and their samples will be collected. If they test positive, they will be taken to the Civil Hospital. Those who test negative will return to their homes and remain under home-quarantine for 14 days.
In addition to the doctors and staff, 5092 individuals have self-registered themselves either by calling 108 or 1070 or through online registration. Of them, 4622 individuals visited the hospital here after March 22 or Bethany Hospital, Nongpoh after March 30.
The department has started contact tracing of the primary contacts of the COVID-19 positive patients and 140 such contacts have been identified. Of these, symptomatic cases will be tested based on the risk category, the statement said.
CM admits shortcomings
Admitting that there are shortcomings, the chief minister said that it was important to be able to respond to the challenges.
In an on-line interaction with media persons, he said that a meeting involving health officials in presence of the Home minister and Health minister along with the chief secretary reviewed the entire situation.
He said more testing would be done. “We are trying to get rapid test kits from different parts of the world. We hope that these would be here very soon,” he said while informing that NEIGRIHMS has scaled up testing to almost 100 per day while facilities in Assam have given Meghalaya 50 more tests a day.
Reacting to a query about the son-in-law of Sailo, who has alleged that there have been no efforts on the part of the government to segregate the family members of six persons, who have tested positive, and nor have been taken to quarantine, he said that it’s a very difficult time for the family.
“They’re going through a very difficult situation and, of course, there are many factors one has to remember which I don’t feel appropriate that I should express right now in the press. We need to respect the space of the family. Necessary guidelines, necessary precautions, safety measures, which should be taken appropriately are being done,” he said.
When asked about criticism that the health department was not fully prepared to deal with COVID-19, he said that the department was very much prepared.
“Situation is very complex and challenging and, therefore, no matter how many things you do, sometimes it is difficult to immediately respond to every single challenge, but what is important for us as department, as a government is to be able to respond to those shortcomings, those challenges we face and ensure that we overcome them and rectify,” he said.
Asked if the government will take action against those who blocked the funeral at Jhalupara, he said that the situation actually was very unfortunate.
He said after the government decided to cremate the body in the area, a team had gone to check it out in the evening. “We did not expect that there would be a large crowd… public came out and there was a lot of concern regarding cremating the body out there. We tried to explain, I spoke to both the MLAs concerned and some of the families to resolve the issue as it was very important and very urgent and there was nothing to fear because this was being done in a very, very safe manner”, he said.
On the Centre’s proposal to exempt farmers and other farming related businesses from the lockdown in view of the positive COVID-19 case in the state, he said that they would have to ensure that there will be no individuals or no workers coming in from any other parts of the state.
“They also have to ensure that there will be no inter-district movement. Certain relaxation to farmers is being allowed because we also need to ensure that this season when the farmers need to sow the seeds is not missed”, he said.

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