As the number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 increases due to the world’s largest vaccination program, the prevalence of Coronavirus infection in the country is coming down gradually. While the total active cases have come down to less than 3 lakh from a high of above 37 lakh in May this year, Kerala and Maharashtra remain the top two states affected by the pandemic. But surprisingly, northeastern state Mizoram has seen a spike in cases in recent times, which has caused fresh worries.
At present, Mizoram has more than 14 thousand active cases, which is the fourth-highest in the country. While other countries in the top ten list always had high cases, Mizoram’s cases have increased only recently. Moreover, the active cases in the state are going up, while in almost all other states, active cases are going down. Even Kerala has seen the number of active cases coming down from 2 lakh in last week to August to 1.63 lakh now, similarly, Maharashtra’s active cases came down from 50 thousand to 38 thousand during this period.
Recently the Union Health Ministry had said that Mizoram, along with Kerala, has emerged as a cause for concern. As many as 3,192 children between 11 and 20 years were reported to be infected by the virus in the first half of September. 2,850 Covid-19 cases have been detected among children below 10 years, and 2,997 cases have been detected between the age group of 21 and 30 years.
But for Mizoram, the active caseload has gone up from 6 thousand a month ago to above 14 thousand now. A Similar trend was seen in July this year, when the active cases had gone from 4 thousand to 12 thousand in a month, before coming down to 6 thousand by the end of August, which against went up in September.
Another cause for concern is that the share of youths among the Covid-19 infected people is high in Mizoram.
Explaining the recent surge in cases in the state, Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma, state nodal officer and official spokesperson on COVID-19, said that a recent study conducted by experts in the state has revealed that the nature of society in the state has led to the increase of cases in the case. The study found that Mizoram is a close-knit society where casual visits to relatives, friends, and neighbours or dining together within the family circle or with others is a common practice even during the lockdown, it has resulted in increased transmission of the infection.
A central team had also attributed this reason behind increased cases, however, the central team had also cited non-compliance with public health guidelines as another reason. According to reports, Dr ZR Thiamsanga, the chairman of the State Medical Operational Team on COVID-19, said that as per a recent study done on 10,000 people in the state, it was found that Covid-19 transmission was found to be high among the people who do not follow Covid-19 Appropriate Behaviour, but the infection is low among the people who follow the norms.
The experts in the state have said that new variants of Covid-19 like Delta and Delta Plus have contributed to higher rates of infection in the state, as these variants are highly contagious. “If highly transmissible Covid-19 variants are already present, it is clear that transmission rate will be high or vast in a close-knit society,” said Dr Thiamsanga, who is also an MLA in the state.
Another reason being cited for recent higher cases in Mizoram is the lack of natural immunity among the people in the state.
Although the pace of vaccination was slow at the beginning in the state, it has gone up recently, and the state has administered more than 11 lakh doses so far. During the initial days, there were lots of vaccine hesitancy in the state due to the influence of the church. It was reported that some Churches and Christian groups were discouraging people from taking the coronavirus vaccine in north-eastern states, including Christian majority Mizoram. But now, vaccination drive has picked up pace due to increase awareness about the benefit of vaccines among people.
The state is augmenting its Covid-19 response infrastructure in the wake of increased cases. The government has decided to increase testing capacity in the state, and is getting two mobile vans equipped with RT-PCR testing facilities from the Centre.