Editorial

Renew preparedness

As per reports every day over a thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccine are administered in Nagaland. Till January 12, over 13.52 lakhs doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in the State. However, sluggish phases, extending into weeks, and delay in the second dose increase the risk that the population faces. So far, 703 people have succumbed to the disease in the State. According to the State Health Department, 87% of COVID-19 deaths in the state are unvaccinated, with fully vaccinated deaths constituting only 1.5% of all COVID-19 deaths in the second wave. Nearly 60% of all the deaths in the state have been reported from Dimapur (421 out of 703). Over the past few days, Dimapur District is again seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. On January 5, out of 31 cases detected in the state, 30 were from Dimapur, while on January 10, out of 32 cases, 16 were from Dimapur. On January 11, out of 29 cases, 24 were from Dimapur, and on January 12, out of 199 cases, 187 were from Dimapur. On January 13, out of 86 new cases, 77 were from Dimapur. Overall, there is a surge in positive cases in Dimapur District. Official statistics show that Dimapur has 98% of eligible beneficiaries have taken the second dose of the vaccine, while the first dose coverage is 129%. Yet, the onslaught of COVID-19 in terms of cases and deaths in the commercial capital is a concern that needs flagging. At the same time, the vaccination numbers are far lower in other districts of Nagaland. At present, according to official data, Kohima District has 69% first doe coverage and 58% second dose coverage of eligible beneficiaries. In Longleng and Mokokchung, the first doe coverage is 59% and 51% respectively and the second dose coverage is 45% and 44% respectively. Other districts of the state are doing worse than this. In fact, while the most vaccine hesitant district in the state, Kiphire, has now somewhat picked itself up from the bottom with 38% first dose coverage and 20% second dose coverage, four other district has dropped to the bottom – Peren, Phek, Wokha and Tuensang, which is the worst vaccine coverage district in the state at 33% first dose coverage and 24% second dose coverage. On January 12, Nagaland recorded the highest daily infection for 2022 at 199 cases. This is alarming and we need a more stringent vigil and ban on all kinds of crowds. There is also an urgent need for surveillance of variants and real-time genome testing. Today we are again facing the same old dilemma. The optimism about this year being a near normal time to resume all economic and societal activities is on a hold, if not crumbling. It is crucial for all of us to immediately turn on the safety mode. At an individual level we should curtail our physical integration, and stay away from all gatherings. We should avoid unnecessary interactions and use digital mode instead. To whatever extent we can avoid close contact with fellow humans; we can minimize the chances of a crisis. At the same time wearing a mask, when we move out should not be considered just a matter of protocol. It should not be thought of only as a healthcare imperative. Beyond this, we should consider it as an ethical obligation. By not wearing a mask, and by freely intermingling with other people, we multiply the chances of the spread of this disease. And it simply means that we are putting the lives of others to peril, beginning with one’s own family. Also vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death. The case scenario brings home the importance of COVID-19 appropriate behavior. The question is are we going to follow COVID protocols and minimize the dangers, or be ready to pay the price. We still have time on our side. Before it turns into a bigger crisis, we must renew our preparedness. Here our government has been expressing and voicing satisfaction and control of the situation thus far. It has said that testing, tracing and vaccination were the three pronged strategy that had shown effect in keeping the surge at bay. However, whether the same strategy and the same pace of measures would be effective in keeping the third wave at bay needs to be discussed and debated openly. Experts, medical practitioners and administration need to put their heads together. Without prejudice!

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