‘Maternity mortality rate, NCD cases surged during lockdown’
Kohima, April 13 (EMN): Principal Director of Health and Family Welfare, Kevichusa Medikhru on Tuesday said that cases of maternal mortality rate and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) increased during the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown last year.
“The department has made an assessment on Covid-19 impact on general public health and found out that NCD cases such as hypertension or people died of stroke or died while sleeping have increased. This was because people were locked down and there was no physical activity,” Medikhru said in an interaction with journalists at his office chamber on Tuesday.
Further, it also witnessed an increase in maternal mortality rate during lockdown last year, he said.
“A lot of pregnant mothers died due to home delivery and for not being able to reach the healthcare facilities; because, they were scared to go to hospitals for delivery as all (district) hospitals were turned into Covid hospitals or Covid Care Centres (CCC),” he added.
To address this issue, he said that the department has directed all district hospitals to identify places where they can carry out other essential services. It further asked them to make alternative arrangements other than using district hospitals as CCC or Covid hospitals.
“The number of people dying due to Covid-19 and the number of people dying due to other diseases is incomparable,” the official added.
In Kohima, plans are in process for Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) to carry out essential healthcare services.
“Meanwhile, at CCC Meriema, an arrangement for one or two blocks would be made to take care of the Covid critical cases so that they don’t come here to NHAK,” he said.
New strain virus not reported so far
Talking about the new strain virus of SARS-CoV-2, which have been detected in parts of India, the official said that there are no such cases reported so far in the state. However, he emphasised on the need to prepare for any eventualities.
He said that the department needs to go through genome sequencing in order to identify whether it’s a new strain virus or not. He added that they are trying to collect the samples for the time being.
“As for the second wave, it is yet to arrive in Nagaland in spite of the increase in positive cases on a daily basis. This is because case definitions are such that we cannot say the second wave of Corona virus has come in the state,” the official pointed out.
He informed that a series of discussions had been held with the department’s officials and with the medical superintendent and chief medical officers.
“State needs to take stock of whatever failures it had faced and experienced during last year Covid-19 crisis. Last year, even before the arrival of Covid-19 virus, the state started preparing. But this time around not only the public or the community has become complacent about the disease but even health workers have become quite complacent, thinking that Covid is just another flu like virus,” he said and appealed to all to take the situation seriously.
“Once the second wave comes, we may have a bigger problem than what we had last year during the Covid crisis,” he said.
The official went on to say that he couldn’t say whether the state is actually fully prepared but added that preparations were on for any eventualities, ‘so that at least our people should not be caught unprepared’.
The Directorate of Health and Family Welfare had earlier this month directed the district task forces to start random testing, which Dimapur district had already begun while other DTFs are yet to begin.
The official pointed out that the department ‘really has to bring in the mandatory (random) testing’ for a group of people including taxi and bus drivers, people working in malls and crowded markets.
“Once screened and if found positive, there’s a good chance of spreading the disease to many. They could as well become the super spreaders, which is why we have to be really cautious about it,” he said, adding that people are in fact a little bit careless.
The official also expressed disappointment at some of the communities not revealing their identity to the healthcare workers during contact tracing and follow ups. He said that some of them have even given different names and phone numbers which they don’t possess.
“It is not only the medical team but the community as a whole had to come in to combat this coronavirus,” he said.
He also assured that the state has vaccines for now, adding that the Centre is ready to provide anytime.
No reports of vaccinated contracting virus
When asked whether there has been any report of vaccinated people in the state contracting the disease again, he replied that no such cases have been reported so far. He further explained that after the first dose, there are chances of them contracting it but after the second dose, ‘there is no issue’.
The official went on to relate the recent “super spreader” incident which was reported at an institute in Phesama.
Samples for three persons — two of 60 plus age (vaccinated) while another of 35 plus age (not vaccinated) — were taken for Covid test in connection with the incident. The test result showed that out of three tested, two who were vaccinated, came negative and one without vaccination was tested positive.
As of now, the government is giving vaccinations for 45 years and above.
“But ultimately, we will come to a point where the vaccine for 45 below and above 18 will come on payment,” he added.
On the possibility of another lockdown in the state, he said that ‘if need be, it may have to come district-wise. But unnecessarily, last time when there was no case in so many districts, we went for lockdown and it affected the state economy and inconveniences were created. Even the health workers were not able to carry out their essential health services and immunisation because they were not allowed inside certain areas’.
“Further, the state is short of resources — testing kits, manpower and financial. We don’t want to strain our people out before the actual thing comes yet we have to be prepared. If we unnecessarily utilise and use up all our resources though there are no cases of new strain virus, our people would be tired and we might use up all the testing kits,” he added.
The big challenge now, he said, is screening of people coming from outside the state, particularly in Dimapur.