Dimapur/Kohima, April 29: Notwithstanding claims of having learned lessons from previous experience, Nagaland Government’s failure to prepare for the second wave of COVID-19 infection came to full exposure on Thursday under tragic circumstances.
Though the Health Department’s figure of COVID fatalities in the State remained unchanged from the previous day’s tally, one COVID-19 positive patient passed away at District Hospital Dimapur, at around 11 to 11.30 a.m., on Thursday.
According to the victim’s younger brother, he was first admitted to a private hospital in Dimapur a week ago when he came down with fever. Initially, he was declared COVID negative.
But three days later, the hospital called to inform that he had tested positive for the virus. So the family admitted him to District Hospital, Dimapur, where he was kept for three days before succumbing to the virus.
As his condition worsened on Thursday morning, the victim’s brother said, the family members tried to get him to the COVID Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “There is no COVID ICU at Civil (District) Hospital,” he told Nagaland Page. However, reportedly the Hospital does have an ICU with ten beds ~ 5 for COVID cases and 5 for non-COVID cases.
The only other hospital with a dedicated ICU for COVID patients in Dimapur is the Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CISHR), which has four beds. They were full.
“I called so many people for help because we wanted to get my brother to the COVID ICU but to no avail. And just like that, my brother was no more,” the younger said.
He also said that the hospital staff was not looking after the COVID patients. “There were two patients, including my brother. But the other one ran away. Even the day before he died, there was no oxygen for the entire day. He was given oxygen support only in the evening,” he said.
According to him, the oxygen cylinder that was provided in the evening (Wednesday) was exhausted on Thursday morning after which the hospital staff replaced it with a used cylinder. “I objected to it and fetched by myself an unused one from the ground floor as our room was on the first floor. Some of the hospital staff was even without PPE suits,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that it took the family around 6 to 7 hours to receive the dead body from the hospital.
“We were asked to bring NOC from the Gaonburra and Chairman of our colony. But the Hospital authorities rejected the NOC when we submitted it. Then we were told to get clearance from the Hindu Samaj… only after making calls to so many people, we could take back my brother’s body,” he said.
The body was cremated at around 8.10 p.m., on Thursday. Since District Hospital authorities could not be contacted as the report, and the details, of the incident were received very late on Thursday night, Nagaland Page will get in touch with the Health authorities on Friday for more information and, if any, clarification.
The Medical Superintendent of CISHR, Dr Clement Momin informed that the hospital’s COVID ICU has 4 beds. “In all we have 14 beds for COVID patients. Four in ICU and the remaining 10 with oxygen cylinders,” the official informed.
Currently, all the 14 beds are full. “They always remain full,” he added.
Meanwhile, the State Government is said to be weighing-up the health infrastructure to further strengthen it.
Apart from reinforcing the Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) and protocols, the State Health Department is also contemplating to strengthen the existing health facilities across the State to help cope with any eventuality, and possibility of emergency-like situation in the State.
Health officials told Nagaland Page that the Government is contemplating to upgrade ICUs in Government hospitals, and additional 260 beds, which will all come with oxygen-support.
Recently, the Central Government had decided to establish oxygen plants in Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung. There will be another 64 ICU beds.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has written a letter to the Centre for airlifting of equipments for setting up of oxygen plants in three districts, as cases of COVID-19 surge.
Rio has also written a letter to Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) requesting companies to contribute generously towards Nagaland’s endeavour to procure vaccines and provide it free to the residents of the State.
He said the State has an estimated population of 8 lakh in the age group 18-44, which would mean that Nagaland needs 16 lakh doses of vaccine.
The total cost for the vaccine alone would be Rs 64 crore, which would be an additional burden on the State, Rio stated in the letter.
(Page News Service)