File photo of Police Bazaar in Shillong | Photo Courtesy: The Shillong Times

The Meghalaya government on July 11 announced a two-day lockdown in Shillong Urban Agglomeration on July 13 and 14 as COVID-19 positive cases continue to surge in the state, with most of the cases reported from the Border Security Force (BSF).

So far, the total active cases in Meghalaya have climbed up to 236 and most of the cases are from the BSF Meghalaya Frontier headquarters in Shillong.

On July 11, 47 cases were reported, that included 30 BSF and 17 civilians.

Out of the total 236 active case, 159 are from the BSF, two from the Indian Air Force and others include 44 in East Khasi Hills district, 20 in Ri Bhoi district, 2 in East Jaintia Hills district and 9 in West Garo Hills district.

The state recorded 45 recoveries from the disease.

Announcing the two-day ‘lockdown the virus through behavior change’, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the lockdown period would be utilized to trace high risk contacts of positive persons and also allow health workers to create awareness on the health protocols that need to be followed.

He said the surrounding areas of Shillong Urban Agglomeration shall be under curfew until 6 am on July 15.

“We have serious numbers and a majority of these cases are from the BSF. More than 95 per cent of the cases that are presently active in the state are from Shillong. Two distinct and worrisome characteristics of this virus are its high transmissibility and invisible nature (asymptomatic). Therefore, on July 13 and 14 there would be lockdown in Shillong urban agglomeration. The only way to handle its spread is to understand these two important characteristics of this virus by every individual,” he informed.

During the lockdown period, the community COVID management committees and the newly-established “behavioural change management committees” would create awareness about the cardinal principles of behaviour change at the household level.

“Remember, we need to fight and isolate this virus together, not just the government or the health workers, but we all need to be COVID warriors,” the chief minister said, adding that the behaviour change is possible only by strengthening the capacity of every individual by practicing the necessity to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and practicing hand hygiene to isolate the virus in their own space.

“This lockdown period will also be used for tracing the contacts of the positive persons who are in Shillong so that further spread may be contained,” Sangma said and urged that everyone strictly adheres to the lockdown so that the virus can be isolated.

Apart from the cases in BSF, health workers in North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) have also tested positive and contact tracing is on.

Health and Family Welfare Minister, AL Hek on July 11 held meetings with local headmen of four localities in Umpling, Rynjah, Nongmynsong and Mawpat surrounding the BSF headquarters over the need for random testing in these areas.

Hek informed that random testing in these areas would begin from July 15 and all the local headmen have given their consent in this regard.

Ruling out community transmission in the Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, the chief minister said that the infections are in clusters and the largest being at the BSF headquarters. The second cluster is at Khanapara and lastly those persons who attended a wedding feast at Greenwood Resort in Assam.

He informed that eight more persons from the wedding party have tested positive taking the total to 10 from the wedding party itself.

The state government on July 10 had directed the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner to file FIR against all 41 people who attended the wedding at Khanapara, Guwahati violating COVID-19 protocol.

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