Covid-19 hasn’t peaked in Nagaland — Health officials
Kohima, Aug. 19 (EMN): Nagaland is likely to witness a rise in Covid-19 cases as the pandemic hasn’t reached its peak in the state, according to Health officials.
The principal director of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Vizolie Z Suokhrie, said that on analysing the present situation in the state, ‘people could be thinking that the positive cases might be reaching the peak, but it may not be the case’. He added that Covid-19 peak is expected to come and cases likely to rise.
Suokhrie said this at a press conference held at the directorate of Health and Family Welfare (H&FW), Kohima, on Wednesday. He was accompanied by two other Health officials – Dr. Nyanthung Kikon, state nodal officer of IDSP, and Dr. Kikameren Longkumer, deputy director of H&FW.
‘When such overwhelming situation comes (Covid-19 peak), that will be the time when people may have to, and the colony people will have to understand. Therefore, the department is trying to engage with the colony people and some activities have been started with them,’ Suokhrie said.
He said that every day is like a new challenge and they are learning many things from this pandemic.
‘The pandemic has caught the people unawares and never expected coronavirus to come like in a way we are receiving. However, the state got sufficient time to prepare,’ he said.
If we look back at how the state started, since January this year, Nagaland is one of the first states to get in touch with the government of India, starting the activities, particularly activating the surveillance, rapid response team, etc., the principal director said, adding that ‘we were fortunate to start much earlier than many other states’.
“We had nothing available (initially), to be frank. We started with around 700 PPE which were available with us that were procured during the H1N1 epidemic where we had some leftover stock available,” he recalled.
This was followed by actual preparations- gearing up for procurement of PPE, ventilators, and other medical requirement.
Prior to the pandemic, the district hospitals were ill-equipped. Only three district hospitals — Naga Hospital Authority Kohima, Mokokchung, and Tuensang — had ICU facilities. “But now, the ICU facilities have been activated in all districts, including Jalukie Covid Hospital, Peren district. Further, the state has adequate numbers of ventilators. There are still sufficient equipment to augment,” he said.
Frontline workers more vulnerable to Covid-19
Frontline workers are “very vulnerable” to the disease, despite taking all the precautionary measures. Three doctors, two nurses, one pharmacist, few sweepers and medical attendants have tested positive for the virus but this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the healthcare or frontline workers,’ Suokhrie said.
‘Those who recovered from Covid-19 have now rejoined their duties and are giving their best. The doctors who were earlier tested positive and are now recovered are giving 24×7 services again,’ he added.
‘If we looked at the positivity rate among the frontline workers, probably Nagaland state is doing much better than the other states. But we really want to see that this is brought down to zero level so that no one will be affected,’ he stated.
Speaking about the challenges, he said that one real challenge was returnees, particularly when Dimapur and Kohima had to carry the burden of other districts in the beginning.
The big concern
‘The stigma and discrimination at the community level, society level, village level etc. is going to be a very serious issue,’ Suokhrie warned. Citing incidents in some villages wherein people panic and don’t want to stay at home when one of their neighbours is tested positive, he said it’s all because of myths and misinformation about the Covid-19.
‘One positive case in a house is not going to spread coronavirus among the neighbours, as long as the person is in self-isolation. Further, the authorities have already allowed home isolation or home quarantine for all the asymptomatic cases,’ he said.
‘Some villages or communities are saying that even if government allows home isolation, they will not agree to that. These are certain things which are doable, once they understand the issue properly,’ he added.
‘If we analyse the positive cases in the state today, almost 95% cases are asymptomatic. All these people can be treated at home. They don’t need to be hospitalised,’ he said, adding ‘this is another issue which people need to understand’.
‘The situation can actually be tackled more effectively, if community people are able to understand the disease properly and become more broad-minded and try to support the positive patients,’ he said.
Dead body management
The principal director said that another issue that people need to understand is corpse management of Covid-19 positive persons.
‘Once someone dies, a dead person cannot cough, cannot stand up and shake hands. The most important thing is that one should not touch the body unnecessarily. Otherwise, once it is sanitised and put into the coffin, there is nothing to worry about it because the virus is not going to fly from the dead body to the people who are surrounding the dead body,’ he said.
The Health department has already issued the SOP on how to handle corpse of a Covid-19 positive patient.
In regard to reports of some colonies not allowing Covid-19 positive persons to undergo home isolation, Suokhrie said that the administration needs to ‘gear up’ in such cases.
‘We need to have strong sense of administrative leadership, in order to avoid these things,’ he said, adding that the Health department is discussing the matter with the administration.
‘The colony people, instead of taking action, should try to understand what is rational, what is scientific, and follow them accordingly. The department is not giving SOP which is unscientific,’ he said.
Speaking about the BSL-2 lab in Dimapur running out of consumables a few weeks ago, he said the BSL-3 at NHAK also had the same problem with RNA extraction kits during the same time, leading to a ‘huge problem’.
‘More than one thousand backlogs happened at that time. But that has been already cleared, and for last few days, there was no backlog,’ he informed, adding that ‘kits come in different batches and some kits create problem, causing some hiccups’.
INR 17 cr. spent on testing
On random testing in the state, Dr. Kikameren Longkumer said that Nagaland too will go for it in the near future, but positive cases are not much currently.
He also said that rapid antigen testing is being used in Nagaland, particularly in hospital set ups where emergency situation arises and that INR 17 crore has been spent so far on testing alone.
A few private hospitals in Kohima and Dimapur have applied for registration for testing of Covid-19. However, for testing, prior approval from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories and ICMR need to be taken, he said.
No community transmission
Dr. Nyanthung Kikon assured that there is no community transmission in the state so far, as authorities have been able to trace the contacts and there is no sporadic case coming out from particular community. Till August 17, around 12,000 contacts have been traced, it was informed.
The Health officials appreciated the state government for stepping up to help improve the health facilities in spite of all constraints. While expressing gratitude to the government for all the support, they claimed that everything is going in the right direction so far.