No COVID-19, but Nagaland lacks health infra to deal with outbreak

Nagaland set up its lone testing lab for COVID-19 in Kohima after directions from the high court but has not been able to make it functional due to the non-availability of an essential compound

Nagaland, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockown, Coronavirus outbreak, North East
Passengers undergo a thermal screening test in the wake of novel coronavirus scare at Dimapur airport in Nagaland. Photo: PTI

Nagaland has no case of coronavirus, but it also does not have adequate health infrastructure to deal with in an outbreak, a cause for concern for officials who believe prayers have kept the state safe from the contagion.

The Northeastern state with a population of over 20 lakh has no medical college. It set up its lone testing lab for COVID-19 in Kohima after directions from the high court but has not been able to make it functional due to the non-availability of an essential compound.

“It is all God’s miracle that has kept Nagaland safe from COVID-19 pandemic till date. The other reason is the hard work of the health workers in dealing with the suspected cases,” Chief Secretary Temjen Toy told PTI.

“Under the present circumstances and given the limited infrastructure, we have given our best and managed to prevent coronavirus, though there is a lot more to be done, especially in the health sector,” Toy said.

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Nagaland at present sends samples to Assam and Manipur for testing and till Friday (May 15) 910 were sent. Of them, 889 were found to be negative for COVID-19, while reports of 21 are awaited.

“Our testing rate is quite low but with the lab being set up, our testing rate would go up and give us a clearer picture of the situation in the state,” Toy said.

The chief secretary said the biggest threat currently is the virus entering the state with the stranded people coming in from other parts of the country. Till Friday, 838 people have returned to the state from different parts of the country.

He said the government is working to improve the states health infrastructure and also filling up positions at state-run facilities.

All eleven district hospitals have been designated for treating COVID-19 patients. The total number of general beds in these hospitals is 464, besides 385 isolation beds and 66 in the ICUs.

However, officials acknowledged that these facilities were not enough in case of an outbreak.

“A war room has also been set up to effectively monitor the situation and strategise accordingly,” Toy said.

The state has also created a capacity of 3,261 rooms in quarantine centres. While 376 people are currently in home quarantine in the state, 957 are undergoing institutional quarantine. Total 6,849 people have completed their isolation period.

Related news: First COVID-19 case in Nagaland, man tests positive

Echoing Toy, another senior bureaucrat said that it is the prayers of the church leaders and believers that have saved Nagaland from the virus.

“It is God’s amazing grace,” said Kikheto Sema, the in-charge of the COVID-19 empowered committee of Dimapur district.

He said Dimapur, which is the commercial hub of the state and shares border with Assam, is the frontier in the war against coronavirus and keeping it safe is key to winning it.

“Once Dimapur fails to stop the entry of coronavirus, all other districts would also fail,” he said.

“Close coordination is being maintained between different departments in the fight against the coronavirus,” Sema said, adding that the people of the district are also cooperating in the efforts.

“It was we not I, as I bring illness but we bring wellness,” he said.

Sema said the district has been working on four C’s – coordination, cooperation, confidence and contribution.

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