Friday, March 31, 2023

Be alert

We can ill afford to be negligent towards the ramifications of the new variant of Covid-19, as we have bitter experience from the last two years. From the very few cases of Covid-19 to the disastrous pandemic, Covid-19 has engulfed the world. From families to global level it was tough for people and governments to combat it. Now we should be more cautious about this situation. No doubt the experiences of the pandemic may haunt us for long, but now we are in a position to face the situation boldly with utmost precautions and preventive measures. At this juncture the situation seems under control. As per the state health department the active cases in the state is less than 850 as on Wednesday. The various Covid related facilities and requirements are also in place, and lot more are being augmented and ensured. We must have a preemptive and proactive approach vis-à-vis Omicron, the variant of concern, as in January we observed sudden surge in new cases across the country. This left medical fraternity in a defensive position. As per reports Omicron has three times more probability of re-infection than Delta variant, and kids and unvaccinated people are prone to the virus. In India the health ministry has issued new guidelines for travelers, given the fact that travelers are the carriers of this virus. Last year we could not plug it in time which had far reaching consequences. Coming to our state, the government has recently re-imposed restrictions to prevent any surge in cases. The state has also geared up efforts to monitor travelers who are at high risk. It has tightened supervision. But we need to keep tight vigil on airports, train stations, entry and exit points on national highways 24×7. The restriction re-imposed should be enforced strictly. Besides the government, the general public has a major role to play. People must follow SOPs and Covid appropriate behavior in daily routine. They must avoid large public gathering at hospitals, offices, religious places, marriages, coaching centers, and examination halls. Need of the hour is to provide additional doses of vaccine to vulnerable groups, impose social distancing, ensure wearing masks and establish random check posts round the clock to monitor entry of people into the state. Timely tracing of contacts can help us in a great way to prevent the viral chain. In its weekly Covid-19 bulletin, the state health department has expressed concern that many cases remain unreported from self-tests at home in the state. It also reported that Dimapur, Kohima and Peren is reporting over 10% weekly sample positivity rate, and cautioned that high sample positivity rate signifies large undetected cases in the population. Now this is a serious concern which needs immediate course correction. At the same time, all the sensitivities of Covid should be delineated. Children, old aged and other susceptible groups must be protected from the onslaught of the new variant. At community level we must also follow SOPs strictly, because stringent measures can help us protect lives. Health and other allied departments must chalk out early strategy. Vaccination of left over people; and booster doses for already vaccinated people, if advised by experts, is needed. Medical oxygen generating plants have now much capacity in the state than previous years, and should be in place at primary health centre level to tertiary hospital. However, it is also a cause of great concern that shortage of power supply has resulted in the oxygen plant at Dr Motsuo Memorial District Hospital remaining non-functional. We saw how separate hospitals in rural and urban areas for Covid patients helped to contain the spread last time. Same should be done this time, in case we have more cases. Special drugs and other required items and machines need to be available. People should mindfully follow government orders and adopt Covid appropriate behavior. Rush at designated centres can be reduced by establishing new centres for RTPCR tests. There is no need for panic but being alert is always helpful. As per India’s top genome sequencing expert Dr Anurag Agarwal had said, “Panicking is not the best response to the new variant but reasonable response is required”. Let’s follow the SOPs and play our part to save lives.