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Beware the epidemics of disinformation & pseudo-science

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, MAY 24: Even as the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic continues on its destructive trail, Naga society appears to be in dire need of inoculation from another epidemic ~ misinformation and disinformation.
Fake news peddlers are not sparing even the most heartrending of tragedies.
On Monday morning, a message about a “double tragedy” at Dimapur went viral on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

It claimed that a woman (Nagaland Page will not use her name) had died at Dimapur on Monday, after suffering a heart attack when she tested positive for COVID-19 during a random test conducted in the streets.
The message went on to claim that “the most unfortunate and saddest story” was the woman’s elder sister also died from a heart attack after learning of her younger sister’s fate. It claimed that they were the only siblings.
Turns out, except for the tragic death of the two sisters, the rest of the information were false.
The younger brother of the two sisters told Nagaland Page on Monday that the family has been “hurt a lot” after coming across the fake message being circulated on social media.
“It has hurt us a lot and made us think how our own people can do this to us. We even thought of filing an FIR but we did not. People should not do this, at least not when we are going through this,” he said.
Narrating the tragic sequence, he informed that the older of the two sisters was admitted to Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR) on May 14 due to low oxygen level.
Her husband, who also tested positive, was advised home isolation.
Then on May 16, the younger of the sisters, who was at Kohima, also came to the same hospital with chest problems.
According to the younger brother, she was under treatment at the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Shillong, for her heart problems for the past 3 to 4 years.
Initially her TrueNat result had returned negative but considering her medical history and condition she was asked to test again, which returned positive for COVID-19.
Both the sisters were kept at the COVID ICU.
“The elder one passed away at around 2.30 a.m. on May 21 and the younger one at around 4.30 a.m. on the same day,” he shared.
The younger brother expressed hope that nobody would peddle such messages with distorted information in the future.
“Those who are doing it should understand that the same could happen to them too,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, a section of people ~ including leaders of prominent Naga organizations ~ were using this fake message to call for suspension of random testing.
When contacted, Dr Longri Kichu, a Consultant at the Health and Family Welfare Department and member of the State-Level War Room on COVID-19, told Nagaland Page that in here in the State, people don’t come for testing, even the symptomatic ones.
“Many just reach the hospital directly when they really can’t breathe and all. Random samplings help us understand our situational level. It helps us indentify the high-risk groups. All the partial and other lockdowns are imposed after taking into account all these factors. Even one positive case detected is making the community a little safer. He or she would have continued spreading the virus if we didn’t (detect the status),” he maintained.
On allegations that random testing was not safe, the Doctor clarified that all sample collections, be it random or at collection site, are done with the same safety precautions.

“The technicians never touch the tip of the swab stick and there is absolutely no chance for infection. Sanitisation with sanitiser is more than enough to avoid contamination. Even if, by the smallest chance, the other person gets infected, it will never show immediately. Positivity will show only after 5 days after a person contracts the virus,” he informed.
“There is a lot of pseudo-science going on. They actually bring down the morale of the healthcare workers a lot,” the doctor rued. (Page News Service)