Days after Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb declared Tripura COVID 19-free, the state witnessed an abrupt spike in coronavirus cases with over 130 people testing positive for the disease in just one week since May 2.
All the new cases are from two battalions of the BSF in Dhalai district.
The first two patients in the state -- a woman from Gomati district and a TSR jawan in north Tripura -- had recovered from the disease in April.
After taking into account the fresh cases, the state government declared Dhalai district as a red zone and marked five locations -- two battalion headquarters, a base camp at Gandacherra, a border outpost with Bangladesh at Kareena and Kamalpur town -- as containment zones.
Expressing concern, Additional Chief Secretary (health) SK Rakesh said, "The numbers have increased all of a sudden. We are hoping that the virus will not spread further as it has been contained within the BSF battalion's headquarters. However, we are ready to deal with any situation. Currently, the government is upgrading the facilities at GB Pant Hospital." Two Border Security Force (BSF) jawans tested positive for COVID-19 on May 2. The very next day 12 more personnel of the paramilitary force were diagnosed with the disease.
The numbers kept increasing as several jawans and their family members tested positive for the disease over the next few days.
Tripura currently has 132 active cases.
Principal Secretary (Home) Barun Kumar Sahu, in a letter to BSF's Tripura frontier IG Solomon Minz, sought an inquiry into the origin of the recent COVID-19 cases.
Dhalai District Magistrate Brahmeet Kaur said the administration was conducting door-to-door surveys, as part of its efforts to contain the disease. "We are continuously spraying disinfectants across the district.
Red zone protocol will be followed in Dhalai. Civilians and vehicles won't be allowed to move unless necessary. Only essential services will be available." Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty said people in Dhalai are not venturing out of homes in the wake of the sudden spurt in cases.
"Most shops have downed shutters and vehicles were off the roads. People in towns and villages were scared of coming out of homes. Only healthcare professionals were moving from one house to another to collect swab samples and gather information," an official said.
The state government, meanwhile, has started an intensive swab collection drive and identified three new hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.
It has also revised the compensation amount from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for death of frontline workers, including doctors, healthcare workers, police personnel and journalists.
The chief minister asserted that that there had been no instance of community transmission in the state.