The number of coronavirus cases in Assam continue to increase but there is some good news for the northeastern state's beleaguered health officials - there has been a 50 per cent fall in the number of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases.
In 2019 the number of JE infections were 630, of which 154 patients died. This year only 318 have been infected so far and 51 have died. The fatality rate has fallen from 24 per cent to 16 per cent.
Japanese Encephalitis is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease that, in severe cases, can cause inflammation of the brain and leave the patient in a coma or with paralysis.
Floods - which Assam has been struggling with for several months now - leave behind pockets of standing water that are perfect breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry this disease.
The Assam government had also feared the spread of the disease at a time when it is already battling the Covid pandemic; the state has nearly 1.7 lakh confirmed cases so far, of which around 30,000 are active cases and 638 are deaths linked to the virus.
Last year, as the death count rose, the state health department initiated an adult vaccination programme for the three worst-affected districts - Goalpara and South Salmara in western Assam and Kokrajhar in the Bodoland Territorial Region.
Over nine lakh adults were vaccinated. More than 60 per cent of them were from Goalpara, with around 2.17 lakh from Kokrajhar.
"Percentage covered in Goalpara was highest with 87.77 per cent of the targeted population vaccinated. Kokrajhar achieved 46.27 per cent and South Salmara 29.5 per cent. Vaccination in Kokrajhar and South Salmara was affected by COVID-19 and had to be stopped," a statement from the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, which assisted the state, said.
The Assam government is also working to collect data from people between 15 and 65 years of age for the next phase of vaccinations - in five districts plus Kokrajhar and South Salmara, where the original phases were suspended due to the coronavirus threat.