Considering the urgent need to take measures for preventing the possible spread of COVID-19 among the drug users, mass testing for COVID-19 among street-based drug users was held in Imphal Monday.
The mass testing of COVID-19 for street-based drug users was held at the premises of the Directorate of Social Welfare near 2nd MR Gate, Imphal.
The social welfare department in association with FINGODAP-Manipur Chapter and Drug Users' Federation for Human Rights and Justice organised the mass COVID-19 testing camp.
Around 50 drug users were targeted to be tested for COVID-19. However, only 29 men and four women turned up for the mass testing.
The director of the social welfare department, Ngangom Uttam Singh stated that people affected by substance abuse disorder are among the most vulnerable sections of the society to both COVID-19 infection as well as adverse impact of stringent measures taken up to control the pandemic such as curfew or lockdown.
Alcoholics and drug addicts are likely to experience intense craving as well as withdrawal symptoms with serious life threatening consequences. Besides this, they are also likely to have the potential of spreading the virus if they are not taken care of in time, it added.
The director of the social welfare department also stated that it is a well known fact that there are many street-based drug users who are disowned by their family. Taking serious note of the exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, it is felt that there is an urgent need to take measures in controlling the possible spread of COVID-19 among the drug users and masses.
As per RT-PCR reports received in the afternoon, 32 of the drug users tested COVID-19 negative whereas one drug user was tested positive, it added.
The lone drug user, who tested COVID-19 positive, was transferred to a special unit of COVID Care Centre for treatment. Once tested negative, he will be transferred to the special de-addiction and treatment centre at Canchipur.
Of the remaining drug users whose COVID-19 test results showed negative, 28 males were taken to the Divine Light Centre, Canchipur while four females were taken to Sneha Bhavan, Airport Road for treatment, the social welfare department stated.
The Imphal Free Press, in its Impact Story published on May 12 had pointed out that even during the COVID-19 pandemic when the government had imposed curfew and containment measures, one could witness drug abusers or peddlers loitering around North AOC though the number might be lesser than on normal days. North AOC, bustling with all kinds of commercial activities, is located in the heart of Imphal City, adjacent to Kangla, one of the historical places of Manipur. The place is a favourite haven for drug users, commercial sex workers and drug traffickers.