SHILLONG, April 25 - The COVID-19 pandemic has brought Meghalaya�s ruling alliance and the Opposition together. In a meeting held here today, they urged people to be �sympathetic with and not stigmatize� anyone affected by the virus and �be kind and respectful� to healthcare workers.
The meeting, chaired by Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Methbah Lyngdoh, was attended by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Leader of the Opposition Mukul Sangma, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, Health Minister AL Hek, Congress MLA and former Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope, and others.
While the Government made a powerpoint presentation on its current efforts, the Opposition made suggestions to boost these efforts.
�Provide sensitive support to all COVID-19 positive individuals and those probable cases and not to stigmatize any individual as the virus can affect any person,� a joint statement said. People should �not be fearful of the virus,� but follow standard protocols relating to personal hygiene, handwashing, cough etiquette and social distancing, it added.
Observing that most people affected by the virus will not need hospitalisation, the statement, however, added that �the Government is fully prepared to deal with all cases that may need hospitalisation�.
The National People�s Party-led Government in the State has been at the receiving end ever since a spate of COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the State, followed by the death of the first patient and the subsequent controversy surrounding his cremation.
The COVID-19 victim initially did not get a resting place due to opposition from local residents, which caught the Government totally off guard. Moreover, the poor testing rate of the primary and secondary contacts of the first patient is also something the Government is trying to rectify.
Meghalaya Chief Secretary MS Rao presented details of the steps the Government has undertaken to contain the spread of the disease. He also highlighted the measures taken to distribute foodgrains and essential commodities.
The Government also stated that reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing would be increased from 90 to 370 by mid-May. Moreover, 50,000 rapid antibody diagnostic kits will be available by the first week of May.
The State Government also highlighted the facilities available in the healthcare systems and the stocks related to personal protective equipment, masks and other medical items. It further said that surveillance and monitoring of all the 5,200 individuals quarantined in their homes are being done by the Government.
Moreover, foodgrain distribution to the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and non-NFSA beneficiaries has already been completed for the current month.
Assistance to people stranded outside and workers in the unorganised sector was also discussed in the meeting.