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New “impractical” SOPs for Dimapur hotels stir up trouble

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Different rules for Dimapur and Kohima

Special Correspondent
DIMAPUR, AUGUST 12: Wednesday evening brought a brief respite to hoteliers in Dimapur with the CMO (Dimapur) directing medical personnel, attending to inmates of the Paid Quarantine Centres, to resume their duties. On August 10, the Medical Department had withdrawn the Quick Response Team assigned to the Paid QCs following a contentious directive of August 6, signed by the Principal Director of the Health and Family Welfare Department, which made it mandatory for hotels (Paid QCs) to arrange and pay for a doctor and nurse each on a 24×7 basis.
While directing the medical personnel to resume their duties at the Paid QCs, the CMO in the order stated that “this is a temporary Stop-Gap arrangement for smooth transition” till the Paid Quarantine make arrangements “on their own.”
The “stop-gap arrangement” was necessitated following an uproar by the hoteliers who submitted a representation to the Deputy Commissioner, Dimapur, on Tuesday stating their inability to run the quarantine facilities under the new rules. Under the August 6 directive, hotels would not only have to arrange for doctors and nurse on a 24×7 basis, but also provide isolation facilities, and further arrange for ambulance for transportation of those undergoing quarantine and positive cases to the COVID-19 hospital. The hotels have also been directed to tie up with ICMR approved labs for conducting COVID-19 tests of those under quarantine. Currently, there are no ICMR approved labs conducting the COVID-19 tests in Dimapur besides the Government facilities.
A hotelier informed Nagaland Page that the office of the CMO, Dimapur, refused to sign the discharge papers of a returnee today even though he had completed 14 days and tested negative as there was no signature by a doctor.
“I will have to close down my hotel, or if need be hand over its keys to the Government. I am barely making profit, but under the new rules, it will become impossible for me to manage the day-to-day affairs of my hotel,” said an exasperated Khemvu Mekru, Proprietor of Hotel Mandira in Dimapur. The sentiment was echoed by most hoteliers when they came together for back-to-back meetings on Tuesday.
Eleven hotel Proprietors/Managers, who Nagaland Page contacted, termed the new directive as “most impractical” and said that if the policy makers do not understand the ground situation, they should have held consultations. “Forget the extra expenses and logistics that we have to shoulder, it is impossible to arrange for one doctor and one nurse for every hotel in Dimapur on a 24×7 basis,” said one hotelier. A Dimapur-based doctor, on conditions of anonymity, also affirmed that “it is impossible to get so many doctors and nurses on a 24×7 basis in Dimapur in such a situation.” “How many doctors do you think we have around here, excluding already those employed by the Government, and what will become of the patients the private practitioners cater to”, he questioned.
Mathew Sangma, Manager of Hotel Theja Fort, which was one of the first hotels to open its doors as quarantine facility, said, “We are already giving out rooms at a discounted rate as stipulated by the district administration, and there is immense pressure on our staff who have not gone home since April 15. How do we handle the extra logistics and pay for doctors and nurses as per the new rules. And where do we arrange for doctors and ambulances in this situation.”
Some hoteliers claimed that the Government was not paying for overstay by the returnees due to delay in their test results. Nagaland Page has independently confirmed a discrepancy in the policies regarding over-stay by returnees. While some hotels have not been charging returnees for overstay (beyond 14 days) due to delay in tests and results, many others were extracting the room rent from the returnees. It has also been reported that CMO, Dimapur, has not shifted some people, who have tested positive to the COVID Hospital, and asked the hotels to keep them “in their rooms.”
DTF in the dark
Sources in the administration, and also in the Dimapur District Task Force for COVID-19, a Government empowered committee, informed Nagaland Page that the Committee had not been consulted before the fresh directives were issued by the H&FW Directorate. A member of the DTF also felt that the order was impractical, and the hoteliers have good reason to feel irked.
DC, Dimapur, who is also the Chairman of the District Task Force, speaking to Nagaland Page said, “It’s not that they (H&FW Dept) do not consult with us. The DTF has taken up the issue, and the Principal Director has assured that the Department will have a re-look into the directives. As of now, I have asked the hotels to continue functioning as per the old directives. Hopefully we will have this sorted out by tomorrow.”
The H&FW Department, according to a report in a local newspaper, claimed that the August 6 directive was not a new order and that it was issued in May. A directive was issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) on May 7, which stated that paid QCs would have to arrange their own doctors and nurses. But the aggrieved hoteliers in Dimapur claim that they had not been intimated about such a directive at any time since they started the quarantine facilities.
Interestingly, the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for hotels in keeping with the Centre’s directives seems to be directed only for paid QCs (hotels) of Dimapur. The hotels that are running paid QCs in Kohima have not received any such directive till today. A source in DTF Kohima told Nagaland Page that it would oppose any such move by the H&FW Department.