No community spread, says Phom
Dimapur, Aug. 2 (EMN): Despite the sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the past few days—especially in the state’s two major urban centres, Dimapur and Kohima—the minister for Health and Family Welfare, S Pangnyu Phom on Sunday maintained that there is no community transmission in Nagaland yet.
The Health minister issued a statement ruling out “community transmission in the state as of now” as Health officials have managed to establish history of contacts in all cases.
“Majority of the confirmed case are among armed forces personnel. Vigorous contact tracing is being carried out and in all positive cases the source of infection has been traced. Out of the total reported mortalities, some are attributed to Covid-19 infection with multiple co-morbidities. All the reported Covid-19 death cases are presently under investigation by the Covid-19 death review committees at the district and state level. Based on the report, such cases will be confirmed as Covid-19 death or otherwise,” he said.
Two BSL-2 labs
According to Phom, the BSL-2 lab at Tuensang is at its final stage of construction. There has been some delay which is also linked to lockdown at Guwahati in Assam, and compounded by quarantining of the technicians for 14 days, he informed.
“However, it is expected to commission by third week of August,” Phom informed.
With regard to the “temporary disruption” of the functioning of BSL-2 lab at the Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR) in Dimapur from July 23 to the 28th, the minister provided the following reasons: acute shortage of consumables due to disruption of supply chain consequent to the lockdown at Guwahati; and shortage of key products like pipettes all over the country.
“The BSL-2 lab at CIHSR, Dimapur started functioning in full capacity. As on date (August 2), the sample backlog for Covid testing at BSL-2 lab is about 700 samples. The lab has tested a total of 4700 tests since its inauguration on June 27.
“There are eight full time staff working in the lab 24×7. The PCR reagents kits and viral test media are supplied by ICMR and the rest of the consumables, RNA extraction kits etc., are financed by the state government. All tests are conducted free and no patients are charged anything for these tests,” he said.
Along with the biosafety labs, the state also has a total of 29 TrueNat machines, which includes three provided by government of India and six donated by legislators and civil societies, Phom informed.
“Now, the state has the capacity to test over 1200 samples per day. Additionally Rapid Antigen Tests are also now made available for Covid-19 testing. To meet the demand of unfolding challenges, private hospitals and laboratories have been permitted COVID-19 testing by TrueNat as well as Rapid Antigen Test as per government of India guidelines.
“As of August 1, 2020, the state has tested 38634 samples. The testing per million population is 17,800 per million which is higher testing rate than the national average of 14,370 per million. The total number of samples tested positive is 1831. The test positivity rate is at 4.74 % which is much lower than the national average of 8.76%, suggesting that despite more testing, the infection rate is lower in the state,” he said.
The Health minister also shared that Nagaland had started screening and monitoring of flight passengers, those with history of travel to China and affected countries, since January 20, 2020. So far, a total of 3,98,535 travellers—of all modes of transportation—have been screened, he informed.
Till date, 261 quarantine facilities have been established across the state, Phom said.
As of August 1, the number of returnees who have been put in institutional quarantine was 20,712, he informed. “Further, a total 21,925 persons were put under home quarantine till date and currently 3799 persons are under home quarantine.”
According to him, Covid-19 hospitals have been set up in districts for management of severe Covid-19 cases and Covid care centres for asymptomatic and mild cases. There were only 66 isolation beds as of March 7 but now it has increased to 622, including isolation beds and 53 ICU beds with 52 ventilators, which is being further expanded, he added.
“Sub-district health facilities have been geared up for continuity of essential services. Further, to facilitate secondary and tertiary care including surgical procedures, private hospitals are empanelled under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY to provide cashless services to the beneficiaries.
“In addition to INR 50 lakh under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package, the state government has also accorded ex-gratia amount of INR 10 lakh as compensation to frontline health worker including working journalists and non-government functionaries drafted for Covid-19 duty, in case of any unfortunate casualty due to Covid-19,” he reminded.
Phom also said that the state government has created 390 new posts under the department of Health and Family Welfare to strengthen its human resource in the fight against Covid-19 and to reduce the shortage of technical manpower in the health sector.
“These new posts include 120 allopathic doctors, three junior dental surgeons, 11 Ayush medical officers, 221 staff nurses, six research scientists for BSL lab, six lab technicians for BSL lab, 10 ECG technicians and 13 OT technicians,” he said.
According to the minister, around 542 doctors, 2065 nurses and various supporting staff including contractual manpower under the department are involved in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic and delivery of essential health services covering 13 Covid-19 hospitals, 12 Covid care centres, 261 designated quarantine centre, 21 CHCs, 127 PHC, 396 SCs, one mental health hospital, two TB&CD hospitals.
“This mammoth exercise is being carried out in the district by the district task force under the able supervision of the high powered committee with chief minister as the chairman,” Phom said.
The minister also extended sympathies to all the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones to the virus.