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COVID-19: Don’t let your guard down — Health department

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By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 16, 2022 8:30 pm
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Dr. K Vikato Kinimi addressing a press conference in the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Kohima on Thursday (EM images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, June 16 (EMN):
Amid the surging cases of COVID-19 in various states across the country recently, Nagaland Health officials on Thursday warned citizens not to let their guard down though the state has not reported any cases in the past few days.  

According to government data, the daily positivity rate is 2.35 % and the weekly is 2.38%. States like Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Karnataka, and Haryana account for 80% of the positivity rate in the country and daily spikes are also reported in West Bengal and Assam.

Addressing a press conference at the directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Kohima, Principal Director Dr. K Vikato Kinimi, said the department is closely monitoring the rise in cases of Covid-19 in other states.

‘So far Nagaland is still safe and since the state went to zero cases, the public is not following the COVID-appropriate behaviour (wearing of a mask, washing hands, and keeping distance)’, he said and appealed to the public to follow them.

“We advised all the districts to be prepared if at all the outbreak comes. The department is prepared to tackle any rise in the COVID-19 wave. We found two cases recently and they are taking treatment.

“As per available data, the rise in cases in the country has not been reflected in the rise in hospital admissions. There is a sustained low incidence level of mild clinical severity and very low rates of hospitalisation due to various factors such as enhanced surveillance focus on case management and high vaccination coverage”, he said.

No new variant has been detected and the variant in circulation is the Omicron variant (B1, B2, B4 and B5). He also said the strategy for surveillance will focus on early detection, isolation, and testing, timely management of suspected and confirmed cases; detection and containment of new COVID-19 variant outbreaks and monitoring of the trends of existing variants.

Stating that the vaccination has proved beyond doubt that it impacts the outcome of COVID-19 infection, the official encouraged all to get vaccinated and also take the precaution dose.

State Immunisation Officer, Dr. Ritu Thurr, said the state’s uptake of vaccination is “very less and very low” ever since the COVID vaccination was rolled out in January 2021. Among the adult population, 18 years and above, vaccination coverage is more than 58%. Among children, from 15 to 17 years, vaccination is 49% and from 12 to 14 years is still less with a vaccination percentage of 23% when the target as per the census is 93,000, he said.

Re-infection is possible

State Nodal Officer of Disease Surveillance Programme, Dr. Nyanthung Kikon also said that one should not take COVID-19 lightly.

“There are still large chunks of the population who are susceptible to the disease, especially people with immune-compromised or co-morbid conditions. These are the vulnerable population and the outbreak in such groups can have a disastrous outcome.

“With the Omicron variant, re-infection is possible. One can be re-infected with different variants of the Omicron variant. If one is infected with B2, they can always be infected with B4 or B5. It is all the more important that the appropriate behaviour is adhered to and should not let guards down because the pandemic is not yet over”, he warned.

He informed that the state now has the revised surveillance strategy in place where all incoming international travellers are subjected to surveillance, that is, 2% of all the international passengers at the point of entry, will have to get their testing done.

In addition, there are sentinel surveillance or health facility-based surveillance and laboratory-based surveillance. Of those having influenza-like illnesses at the discretion of their treating physicians, 10% of them can be subjected to tests, and also those having severe acute respiratory infection are subjected to RT-PCR tests and if found positive, it will be sent for whole genome sequencing.

“This strategy has changed in a way where it will not be mass-based but based on the situation. Another thing is the whole genome sequencing, which is to detect any new variant that is in circulation”, he said.

He added that the department is closely monitoring the COVID situation in other states and Assam in particular as Nagaland shares a major boundary with the state.

No cases of Monkeypox in India

While some countries have reported cases of the rare monkeypox disease, there are no confirmed cases in India as of now. There were some suspected cases but the test result returned negative, Dr. Kikon said.

Meanwhile, the principal director also said that suspected cases from Kerala were sent for whole genome sequencing and it was found out to be negative and so far the country is safe. 

He added that an awareness circular on monkeypox has been set to the districts in case the disease comes to India.

“For that, the state is rather ahead of other states as it is prepared to see to all that,” he added.

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By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 16, 2022 8:30:00 pm