GUWAHATI: As if the COVID-19 pandemic is not bad enough, some districts of Assam are now in the grip of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and floods.
Official sources said 82 cases of JE and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) were reported from districts such as Cachar, Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Kamrup, and Morigaon. So far, there have been no deaths.
“We have recorded 79 cases of AES and three cases of JE. Two JE patients have been discharged from hospitals. The remaining others are under treatment and stable,” Dr. Lakshmanan S, who is the Mission Director of National Health Mission in Assam, told this newspaper.
He said the third JE patient was “stable” but she had multiple infections.
“The challenges are innumerable but we are working hard. The reality is there will be people whom we will not be able to save because of the natural course of the disease,” Lakshmanan added.
Assam has been vulnerable to JE all along. The combined number of deaths due to JE and AES last year was 600 – 154 of them in JE. JE alone accounted for 94 deaths in 2018, 87 in 2017, 92 in 2016, 135 in 2015, and 165 in 2014.
First flood the year
Meanwhile, the first flood of the year, triggered by incessant rains and the release of water from a dam, affected 2,980 people in three villages of two districts such as Barpeta and Lakhimpur.
According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority, Puthimari and Jia Bharali rivers were flowing above the danger level at two places. Cropland affected was in areas of 105 hectares in Lakhimpur. A river embankment breached while a bridge collapsed.
Highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases
Assam on Saturday recorded 70 cases of COVID-19 which was by far the highest single-day spike. It took the state’s tally to 329. As many as 44 cases were reported from one quarantine centre in Guwahati while the remaining others were reported from some districts. On Friday, the state had recorded 49 cases.
Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said nobody, arriving from outside the state, would be allowed to go for home quarantine without undergoing seven days’ institutional quarantine. Earlier, he had made an appeal to people from the state, stranded outside, not to return saying Assam is not safe now.
Over the past two months, more than 17,000 domestic pigs died in the state due to African swine fever.