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What exactly is Dimapur’s status of beds and oxygen for COVID positive cases?

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Page News Desk

DIMAPUR, MAY 17: The inspection of COVID Care Coaches by the Nodal Officer for COVID related activities at Dimapur, Y Kikheto Sema and other District Administration and Medical Officers, at Dimapur Railway Station, on Monday, the day Nagaland Page had published a report about vacant beds in the Coaches, has raised more questions than answers.

According to a DIPR report, the team concluded that the train Coaches were not feasible to be used as COVID Hospital “owing to numerous practical and logistical difficulties”.

The report also stated that Team Dimapur decided to keep the Coaches reserved for COVID Care Centre and would be utilised specially for “migrant labourers” as and when need arises “because presently beds are still available at Chumukedima COVID Care Centre”.

A hint of discrimination then emerges as regards beds in these Coaches being specially for “migrant labourers” juxtaposed with the guidelines for COVID Care Centres issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, “The COVID Care Centres shall offer care only for cases that have been clinically assigned as mild or very mild cases or COVID suspect cases”. The guidelines do not specify whether a person is a migrant labourer or not, but only specifies a person’s medical conditions.  

Dimapur District Task Force Chairman had earlier told Nagaland Page that Railway Coaches are used as COVID Care Centre for patients who do not have place for home isolation, who are not in a position for home isolation or some other people who do not have a separate room in their house. He said it is meant for COVID positive people with very mild and asymptomatic cases.

The team today observed that even if the Coaches were to be utilised as COVID Care Centre, only 80 patients (not 160, as stated by the Railways Medical Officer and quoted in our report today) could be accommodated since the distance was against SOP. As far as oxygen is concerned, the ones installed at the Coaches are small in size, the team had observed.

In today’s issue, Nagaland Page had reported that the COVID Coaches has 160 beds as per the arrangements made by the NF Railways while it converted it into a COVID Care Isolation Coach. However, neither the State Government nor the Dimapur District Task Force had made public the availability of beds at the COVID Care facility at the Railway Station although they claim to have visited the facility earlier. In fact, the public was informed by the NF Railway through the various media platforms.

Moreover, does the size of oxygen cylinders matter, when there is a shortage across the country? The Railways ought to be appreciated for providing oxygen cylinders in the COVID Care Coach, irrespective of size, when as per earlier DIPR reports on shortage of oxygen shortage in hospitals at Dimapur, which had quoted the Nodal Officer.

Also, it may be recalled ~ “The nodal officer also indicated the acute dearth of Oxygen in Dimapur and the urgent need for Oxygen supply when he appealed to people, who are keeping oxygen in their houses for emergency, to give on loan and to save lives instead of keeping it idle.” (Health system collapses as Dimapur hospitals run out of oxygen, beds, Nagaland Page, May 17, 2021)

That “…people, who are keeping oxygen in their houses for emergency…” also needs to be established with evidence, as well as from where they have sourced oxygen cylinders ~ when there is a shortage across the country. If a black market for oxygen is operating in Nagaland, merely appealing “… to people to give on loan and to save lives instead of keeping it idle” is not enough. The law must step in here under the National Disaster Management Act, etc.

The same reports also states: “According to the DIPR report, Sema expressed urgent need of beds and oxygen in Dimapur District “as all the available facilities in both Government and private hospitals has run out of the same”.” (Health system collapses as Dimapur hospitals run out of oxygen, beds, Nagaland Page, May 17, 2021)

There are also unconfirmed reports of patients sharing oxygen cylinders in some hospitals particularly the District COVID Hospital.

At a time when the COVID pandemic has taken a dangerous turn with Dimapur having the highest the positivity rate in the State, Health authorities ought to make full use of all available facilities to provide care and treatment to the COVID positive people, whether mild, asymptomatic or symptomatic.

As reported earlier, the NF Railways had provided the COVID Care Coaches on the request of the State Government, as it felt the need.

Is the Railway CCC only for “migrant labourers” to come to Nagaland and occupy? What about hundreds of mild and asymptomatic COVID positive persons who are being sent for “home isolation” without ascertaining whether they have facilities at home or not? This is sheer discrimination and insult to humanity.

It may be noted that the active COVID Care Centre at the new DC Complex at Chumukedima has a capacity of 300 beds, but only 60 to 70 beds are occupied at present, according to DC Dimapur.

DC Dimapur, Rajesh Soundararajan (IAS) told Nagaland Page that once the beds are exhausted at Chumukedima COVID Care, the COVID Care Isolation Coaches at Dimapur Railway Station can be used.

“Whenever we require it we will use it. But it is not suitable to be used as COVID Hospital. In our existing COVID Care Centre, we have enough capacity and when it is exhausted, we will go for this as COVID Care Centre,” he said.

He also said there is no point is running two COVID Care Centres, when we have enough beds in one. “We will use it whenever it is required,” he asserted.

Questions: are beds and Oxygen cylinder in Government and private Hospitals adequate for Dimapur’s COVID cases? Is the second wave surge declining?