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Nagaland gears up to face 2nd wave of COVID-19

Dr Medikhru
Principal Director of Health & Family Welfare, Dr Kevichusa Medikhru.
  • No new variant of virus detected in State so far, claims Govt
  • Area-wise lockdown likely, not statewide, if cases increase

Kohima, April 13: Nagaland is yet to face the second wave of COVID-19 but with the increasing trend of the infection, the State Government is gearing up for any challenges, said Principal Director of Health & Family Welfare, Dr Kevichusa Medikhru.

Interacting with reporters at his official chamber here today, Medikhru said “we were caught unaware when COVID-19 first hit the State but this time we are gearing up to face any challenges that would come about with the second wave of the infection”.
Series of consultative meetings are being held with Chief Medical Officers and Medical Superintendents of all the districts to review the failures faced during the more than one year of the pandemic and prepare well to face the challenges ahead, he said.
“We have to be very careful against the second wave and new strain,” he said, while adding “we can’t say we are fully prepared but already ground works are being carried and we don’t want to be caught unaware”.
Medikhru opined that over the period of the pandemic, not only the public and community but even the health workers have become complacent thinking that COVID-19 is just another flu.
He called upon all not to lower their guard but continue to follow the COVID-19 appropriate behaviours like use of face mask, hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing.
He said the State is yet to face the second wave while presence of mutations and new strains of COVID-19 in the State can’t be ruled out.
No new variant of the virus has been detected so far in the State but sample collection is being done for genome sequencing to identify the new strain, he said.
Medikhru also informed that the Health Department on April 3 has issued an advisory to all the District Task Forces on COVID-19 to conduct random sampling and testing of COVID-19 in view of the impending second wave of the virus in the State and to assess the trend of COVID-19 transmission and prevalence in the community.
Dimapur district has already started the same while other districts would also follow, he said.
He said currently the challenge faced by the department is contact tracing as those detected positive are not willing to reveal their contacts due to stigma. He appealed to the community in general to come forward for testing so as to curb the spread of the virus.
Maintaining that another difficulty is the screening of travelers at entry points, he said while screening of passengers has begun in Dimapur airport it is difficult to screen travelers by road and train due to shortage of man power in the department.
There are too many entry points into the State by road and the department is faced with shortage of resources like testing kits and manpower and therefore cannot maintain screening at the entry points, he said.
On availability of COVID-19 vaccine, the Principal Director said “there is no shortage of the vaccine in the State while the Government of India is willing to give us more vaccines”. Nonetheless, the problem is because of rumours and false prophecies people, including healthcare workers, are not willing to get inoculated.
On the possibility of lockdown in the State, he said if cases continue to increase the department may recommend area-wise lockdown and not state-wide, as lockdowns affect the economy of the State in general.
Rise in maternal mortality rate
He also said that the one year of COVID-19 has impacted the essential health services throughout the State as the district hospitals were turned into COVID-19 hospitals.
This has given rise to non-communicable diseases and also increase in maternal mortality rate in the State as pregnant women were hesitant to go to hospitals for delivery of the fear of contracting the virus, he said.
However, now all district hospitals have been asked to make alternate arrangements for COVID-19 care centres with critical care centres so that the district hospitals can function normally for general health services because the number of people succumbing of COVID-19 is incomparable with those dying due to general diseases.

COVID-19 test rate to be revised
State Nodal Officer for Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Dr Nyanthung Kikon said the department is contemplating to decrease the rate of COVID-19 test in the State and would soon notify the new rates.
He said that the State has started demanding negative test results of COVID-19 of any inbound traveller.
Kikon appealed to all, including those who have completed the vaccination course, to be responsible by continuing to wear masks and follow all COVID-19 appropriate behaviours.
He also urged those coming in contact with the COVID-19 positive people not to hide but voluntarily isolate themselves and come forward for testing. (Page News Service)