Itanagar, August 15 (PTI): Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Saturday exhorted the people to adapt to the ''new normal'' to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the northeastern state.
Khandu, while unfurling the Tri-colour at the Indira Gandhi Park here on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, said people must adhere to safety measures like hand sanitisation, wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing to defeat COVID-19.
The public was not allowed in the venue and the programme was held with only a few government officials, journalists and security personnel. Also, no march past or cultural programmes were organised.
Khandu said the state government has been able to control the spread of the infection with the support of various stakeholders including frontline workers.
He said the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 24 gave the state government time to prepare for combating the disease.
The Arunachal Pradesh government utilised the lockdown time to strengthen the health infrastructure in the state, Khandu said.
"We notified 32 district COVID-19 health centres with 326 beds, 66 COVID-19 care centres with 2,497 beds, 383 quarantine facilities with 13,411 beds and dedicated COVID-19 hospitals Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) at Naharlagun and North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM) at Pasighat in East Siang district," he said.
Khandu said the state government created ICUs in the district hospitals, besides deploying specialised doctors and ventilators in those establishments. It also took a major decision of converting the MLA apartments here into a COVID-19 hospital.
Aggressive testing of samples, tracing of contacts and treating of COVID-19 patients was an effective strategy to contain the spread of the disease in the state, the chief minister said.
One RT-PCR laboratory has been established in Naharlagun and another is being set up in Pasighat. Also, TrueNat and rapid antigen test kits have been dispatched to all the districts, he said.
"As a result of this, Arunachal Pradesh has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the Northeast. It ranks among the top six states in the country in terms of tests per million population," Khandu said.
He said the state government will upgrade 17 district hospitals for Rs 350 crore and tenders will be floated soon.
"We have also started the process of equipping our 24 district hospitals with best-possible equipment and three state-of-art ambulances each. Several ambulances have already been pressed into service in some districts.
"Around 100 specialised doctors, 60 medical officers and more than 400 nurses are being recruited. We are confident that by next Independence Day, we will have a better health infrastructure," Khandu said.
He said the state is geared up to take benefit of the Rs 20 lakh crore Atma Nirbhar Bharat package.
"Our measures for economic revival will be focussed on agriculture and allied activities including food processing, use of local labour and skills, promoting local manufacturing, supporting entrepreneurs through various banks and gradually reducing our dependence on other states for various requirements," Khandu added.
Arunachal Pradesh has so far reported 2,607 COVID-19 cases, including five fatalities.