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State H&FW Deptt concerned about surge in COVID-19+ cases

Press Conf HFW
Principal Director, Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Vizolie Suokhrie addressing the media on Wednesday at Kohima

Says “the state is not prepared” for Hornbill Fest

Our Correspondent
KOHIMA, OCTOBER 28: Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Department today expressed concern over the complacency of general public leading to the increasing trend of COVID-19 positivity rate in the State and stressed on the need for stringent enforcement of laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) while also saying ‘NO’ to mega celebration of Hornbill Festival.
Briefing media persons in the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Principal Director, Dr Vizolie Z Suokhrie said Nagaland was in stable condition in the fight against COVID-19 till mid September as the trend of positivity initially was among the returnees, frontline workers and security force personnel.
However, from September end ahead, there has been a surge in positive cases particularly in the state capital Kohima and commercial hub Dimapur within the community through contact tracing, he said.
Nonetheless, Dr Suokhrie said though the infection is spreading within the community but “we have not reached the community transmission stage.”
Last one month has seen an increase in positive symptomatic cases and number of mortality mainly because after the State decided to enter into the Unlock 04 from early September, people have become complacent thinking the pandemic is over.
The overall positivity rate in the State is 8.5% but during the last one month alone, the positivity rate has been between 14 to 17%, he said.
The Principal Director observed that people do not come forward for testing while having the flu but report about the infection very late only after they start having difficulties in breathing and other complications.
In his message to the people, Dr Suokhrie said, “While there is no definitive treatment or vaccine for Coronavirus infection, early testing and early diagnosis is the best measure to avoid severity and fatality due to COVID-19”.
“If we can start the treatment on time, many complications can be avoided,” he said.
With the onset of winter, the flu season is also here and the risk of infection would be high, he said while urging people to follow the golden standard rule of frequent hand wash, compulsorily wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance.
“COVID is more aggressive than the seasonal flu,” he said.
Expressing that this is also the season of festivals and weddings in the State, Dr Suokhrie stressed on serious implementation of the laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and avoiding bigger crowds of more than 100 people.
HFW says ‘NO’ to mega Hornbill festival celebration
Asked about the stand of the Health Department on the directive of the Tourism Department asking Government Departments to initiate preparation for the forthcoming Hornbill Festival, the PD said “the state is not prepared”.
The state is not prepared for any kind of festivals, he said, while maintaining that virtual Hornbill festival can be encouraged but not the mega event.
“We don’t want another lockdown in Nagaland, so everyone has to play their role responsibly and follow all guidelines and instructions to see that we don’t have to come across another lockdown,” he said.
“Lockdown is avoidable provided every individual takes social responsibility that I will not transmit the infection to other people… that I do my best not to get infected, if this responsibility is owned by every individual we will not need any more lockdown,” said Dr Suokhrie.
“Follow SOPs lest we face serious crisis”
Mission Director National Health Mission,Dr Kevichusa Medikhru cautioned those people who were infected and have recovered saying that it does not mean that they cannot be re-infected. The re-infection can be asymptomatic and therefore the infected and recovered persons can be super spreaders of the virus, he said.
“Our people have become complacent and at the same time our health workers are fatigued because of the virus,” he said while asking people to strictly adhere to the SOPs and be very careful lest the State will have a serious crisis with the impact of COVID-19.
“We have to assume that we are tested positive for COVID-19 and take necessary measures in order to keep others safe, vice-versa, we have to assume that the person sitting next to us is COVID-19 positive and we should take remedial measures in order to be safe. This is the mindset that needs to be adopted by our people,” the Mission Director opined.
85% COVID-19 transmissions can be stopped by wearing mask & hand wash
On a peoples’ concern if wearing a mask is really safe, Deputy Director, Dr Kikameren Longkumer said the primary cause of transmission is through droplets because without a mask if someone coughs or may be while talking or singing the droplet goes up to 8 feet.
“Up to 85% transmission can be stopped by wearing a mask, hand washing and physical distancing… this is a low cost strategy everyone should follow,” he said while quoting WHO study.
“We talk of being tired of the COVID-19 and everyone wants to go back to normalcy, but when we don’t take the responsibility to check the transmission by following the 3 golden rules, we will not be able to go back to normalcy, total opening of churches and celebrating festivals,” he said.
“If we follow these simple ways, sooner or later we will be able see the normal way of life,” said Dr Longkumer.
Youngsters should avoid social gathering and partying
State Nodal Officer for Integrated Disease Control Programme, Dr Nyanthung Kikon lamented about reports of youngsters engaging in social gatherings and parties in the night where the basic SOPs are not being followed thinking that they are young and even if infected would recover soon.
In this, he cautioned that even though they are young, they must think about the elder and children back home who are more vulnerable to the infection.
Saying that there is a shift in epidemiology from the young to the old in the State, Dr Kikon urged the young people as the future of the society to take the responsibility to be the main champions to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19.