Govt was unprepared for returnees: NPP

DIMAPUR, JUN 5 (NPN) | Publish Date: 6/5/2020 1:09:18 PM IST

National People’s Party (NPP), Nagaland State has alleged that the State government was not well-prepared and very rash in bringing back stranded people of Nagaland from various States of India without properly ascertaining the State’s preparedness in terms of health resources, screening facilities, quarantine centres, fully functional BSL-3 and BSL-2 laboratories, etc.

In an open representation to chief minister Neiphiu Rio, NPP Nagaland president Dr Andrew Ahoto Sema and general secretary (organisation) Limanuksung Longkumer also accused the government of not being transparent in utilisation of COVID-19 funds and sharing exaggerated amounts in public domain.

The representation noted that even after the returnees set their feet on home soil, there was no respite to their agonies. There were instances where they were kept waiting for hours in the name of screening without any food or water. Most of the quarantine centres did not even have basic facilities available, with reports that some quarantine centres did not even have separate toilets. 

NPP accused the chief minister of succumbing to pressures of few organisations and sending the returnees to their respective districts, adding that sending the returnees to Tuensang without awaiting test results and a returnee who tested positive along with other returnees to Jalukie in Peren district were gross miscalculations on the government’s part. 

The representation noted that the lower-level officials and staff could only be guided in such a situation when the higher-ups and senior officials use their wisdom and competency levels.

Referring to reports that samples of many returnees lodged at quarantine centres had not even been collected for testing, the party said there was a backlog of around 1,000 individuals who have not been screened or tested till now. 

In this regard, it questioned the efficacy of the government in sending test samples to Dibrugarh, Assam by citing that the testing facility at Kohima was overloaded. Instead, the party said the government can mull using TrueNat Beta-Cov testing kits/machines as an alternative before more laboratories were made functional. Though, TrueNat Beta-Cov was not highly dependable, it could at least provide some reports based on which tests could be validated through tests at BSL-3 or BSL-2 labs.

According to NPP, the government also made an unrealistic promise of setting up a BSL-2 lab at Tuensang. Asking the government whether it even know the logistics involved in setting up a BSL-2 lab, the party pointed out that BSL-2 lab at CIHSR was till date not functional. Instead, the government should have given priority to setting up more COVID-19 treatment facilities for the patients, instead of solely focusing on testing alone, it added.

As BSL-2 labs are dependent on continuous generator supply for their specialized air handling units for running the negative pressure rooms, the party said without proper power back-ups and infrastructure, in addition to constant load-shedding, efficiency of such labs were highly questionable.

“We would also like to inform you that BSL-2 lab is just a facility. It is not the equipment. The equipment is an RT-PCR, which is a highly sophisticated machine and requires years of training by very skilled technologists to run it,” the representation explained. 

Alleging that frontline workers have not been provided with proper facilities, the party feared that in the coming days many medical staff could leave their job due to safety concerns. It asked Rio to refer to a news report published in a leading daily wherein it was mentioned that with the rising cases of COVID-19 in the State, many nurses were quitting their jobs in private hospitals as they were feeling unsafe, coupled with increased workload and family pressure to quit their jobs.

And adding to the apathy of medical fraternity, NPP pointed out the government had given doctors, who are already overworked, the responsibility of deciding the fate of quarantinees. It also alluded to reports that after the mandatory institutional 14-day quarantine, the doctors were being directed by the government to issue certificates to the quarantinees without even conducting swab tests on them.

Mentioning that Dimapur had the highest number of returnees (approximately 70%), the party said it however had minimal facilities, unlike Kohima where the best facilities were concentrated, including maximum number of doctors and nurses. Also, chief medical officers of all districts were not only handling COVID-19 hospitals, but also the quarantine centres with limited manpower, which was adding to the workload of medical staff.

Moreover, currently there was no adequate backup of doctors and paramedics, particularly in Dimapur, due to which they were not only overloaded but also had the risk of being infected with the virus. It however appreciated Dimapur District COVID-19 Committee led by Y Kikheto Sema for doing an incredible job of managing the overall situation

The representation also charged the government of not hiring experts from outside for seeking advice on battling the pandemic, while taking advices of some “inexperienced stooges” who bad political affiliation and no professional knowhow.

The party demanded legitimate answers from the government on all these as people have to be assured that they were in safe hands at this crucial juncture.


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