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Meghalaya extends lockdown in COVID worst-hit East Khasi Hills district

The decision to extend the lockdown in East Khasi Hills district that includes the State capital was taken during a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

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Shillong: Amid the rise in the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths mounting, the Meghalaya government on Thursday extended the ongoing lockdown for another week from May 17 till 5 a.m of May 24 in its worst-hit East Khasi Hills district to break the transmission chain.

The decision to extend the lockdown in East Khasi Hills district that includes the State capital was taken during a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

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On Thursday, Meghalaya recorded 591 new COVID-19 cases, the highest ever single-day surge, pushing the number of active cases up to 3,276, while the death tolls rose to 268 with 18 new infection-related deaths on Thursday.

In the past 24 hours, 16, out of the 18 deaths and 2121 active cases were reported in East Khasi Hills district alone.

Announcing the extension of the ongoing lockdown which was supposed to expire on May 17, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said, “The decision to extend the lockdown was taken in view of the increasing trend of active cases, and based on the detailed reports received from the districts.”

“We have no option but to extend the lockdown for the safety of the citizens of the State,” he said, exhorting residents in the worst-hit East Khasi Hills district to adhere to the COVID protocols to break the transmission chain.

In the other 11 remaining districts, which are already on partial lockdowns and total lockdowns only on weekends, Tynsong said the government has left it to the Deputy Commissioners of the respective districts to decide on imposing the total lockdown.

On availability of oxygen in the state, Tynsong: “Oxygen stock supply is manageable throughout the state”, and urged people not to panic on the issue.

“Six units of oxygen generator will be made functional latest by next week in Shillong Civil Hospital. Once this generator at Shillong Civil Hospital is installed we will be able to cut down the requirement of cylinders and the surplus cylinders which are supposed to be utilised in Civil Hospital will be distributed across the State,” the Deputy Chief Minister informed.

Moreover, oxygen generators for three other district headquarters – Tura, Jowai and Nongpoh – are already on the way to the state and these would be installed by next month. Tynsong said once these generators are installed, there will be “surplus oxygen” in the state.

In the review meeting, the government also decided to create a “cluster or community isolation centre” to cater to those patients who are either asymptomatic or classed as category A or B in every District at the grassroots level to prevent unnecessary pressure on the hospitals.

“This has been communicated to all Deputy Commissioners for necessary action,” he informed.

“These centres would take care of asymptomatic positive cases or those who don’t need immediate hospitalization,” Tynsong said.

On the confusion arising in some cases with the disposal of the dead bodies, Tynsong said religious rituals concerning the dead can be performed following the laid health protocols.

“Instances were detected that the religious groups are sacred to perform religious rituals as done in normal time. people can perform the last rites as per their faith as the bodies are properly wrapped following laid protocols and the last rites can be conducted after the bereaved families and others wear full protection material,” he said.

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