No community transmission: Pangnyu

DIMAPUR, AUG 2 (NPN) | Publish Date: 8/2/2020 1:09:23 PM IST

Health & Family Welfare (H&FW) minister S Pangnyu Phom has denied any community transmission of COVID-19 so far in the State.

In a statement, Pangnyu admitted that though there has been a spike in number of positive cases in recent days, particularly in Kohima and Dimapur, majority of the confirmed case were among armed forces personnel. He, however, said that vigorous contact tracing was being carried out and the source of infection had been traced in all positive cases. 
He said out of the total reported mortalities, some were attributed to COVID-19 infection with multiple co-morbidities. He added that all reported COVID-19 death cases are presently under investigation by the COVID-19 Death Review Committees at the district and State levels, based on which such cases would be confirmed as COVID-19 death or otherwise. 
But, as history of contacts had been established in all cases, he claimed that there was no community transmission in the State as of now. Phom declared that setting up of BSL-2 laboratory at Tuensang was at final stage. Admitting that there had been some delay due to lockdown at Guwahati and compounded by quarantining of the technicians for 14 days, he said it was now expected to be commissioned by third week of August.
Temporary disruption in BSL-2 lab: According to the minister, there was a temporary disruption in the functioning of BSL-2 laboratory at CIHSR Dimapur from July 23 to 28 due to acute shortage of consumables following disruption of supply chain consequent to the lockdown at Guwahati and shortage of key products like pipettes all over the country.
Claiming that the laboratory had since started functioning in full capacity and the sample backlog for COVID testing was about 700 samples as on date, he said the laboratory has conducted 4,700 tests since its inauguration on June 27. 
He said there are eight full-time people working 24x7in the laboratory, adding PCR reagents kits and viral test media had been supplied by Indian Council of Medical Research and rest of the consumables, including RNA extraction kits, had been financed by the State government. He claimed all tests are conducted free and no patients are charged anything for these tests.
Conceding that the pandemic, which is one of the biggest medical emergencies, had crippled lives for the past five/six months, Phom said the H&FW department had started screening and monitoring of passengers with history of travel to China and affected countries since January 20 this year, adding altogether 3,98,535 travellers by air, railways and roadways had been screened. 
Further, to obviate the possibility of the spread of the virus, 261 quarantine facilities were set up and till August 1 the number of returnees been put in institutional quarantining stood at 20,712. Presently, 2,375 persons are under institutional quarantine, while 21,925 individuals had been put under home quarantine till date and currently 3,799 are under home quarantine
From a zero capacity to test COVID-19, the State now has two functional BSL laboratories – one BSL-3 laboratory at Kohima and one BSL-3 laboratory at Dimapur– while another BSL-2 laboratory is being set up at Tuensang.
Mentioning that the State had 29 TrueNat machines, which included three being provided by the Centre and six donated by legislatures and civil society groups, the minister said these machines have a capacity to test over 1,200 samples per day. Additionally, he said rapid antigen tests were also now made available for COVID-19 testing. To meet the demand for unfolding challenges, private hospitals and laboratories have been permitted to conduct COVID-19 tests by TrueNat as well as rapid antigen as per Government of India guidelines.
Till August 1, the State had tested 38,634 samples with the testing per-million population being pegged at 17,800 which according to Phom was higher than the national average of 14,370.  With 1,831 samples testing positive, the positivity rate is 4.74% which is much lower than the national average of 8.76%, suggesting that despite more testing, the infection rate is lower in the State. 
While the first COVID-19 case in India was reported on January 30, a patient from Nagaland tested positive in Assam on April 12 and the first three positive cases in Nagaland were detected on May 25 from among the returnees who came by special train from Chennai. 
There were 1,831 confirmed cases in Nagaland till August 1, out of which 1,183 were active, 640 recovered and four deaths. Altogether 927 confirmed cases were among returnees, 623 from armed forces, 134 frontline workers, 115 traced contacts and 32 others.
COVID-19 hospitals have been setup in districts for management of severe cases and COVID care centres (CCCs) for asymptomatic and mild cases. There were only 66 isolation beds as on March 7, whose numbers have now swelled to 622, including Isolation beds and 53 ICU beds with 52 ventilators which are being further expanded. 
Further, sub-district health facilities have been geared up for continuity of essential services, while private hospitals have been empanelled to facilitate secondary and tertiary care, including surgical procedures, under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana to provide cashless services to beneficiaries. 
Besides Rs 50 lakh under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package, the State government also approved an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh as compensation to frontline health workers, including working journalists and non-government functionaries drafted for COVID-19 duty, in case of any unfortunate casualty due to COVID-19.
The State government has created 390 new posts under the H&FW department to strengthen human resource in the fight against COVID-19 and reduce shortage of technical manpower in the health sector. These new posts include 120 allopathic doctors, three junior dental surgeons, 11 AYUSH medical officers, 221 staff nurses, six research scientists and laboratory technicians each for BSL laboratories, 10 ECG technicians and 13 OT technicians. 
The minister also appreciated and acknowledged all frontline workers for putting their selfless service in protecting the lives of the people of Nagaland since January this year and still going strong. He said 542 doctors, 2,065 nurses and various supporting staff, including contractual employees in the H&FW department, are involved in the fight against COVID-19 and delivery of essential health services covering 13 COVID-19 hospitals, 12 CCCs, 261 designated quarantine centre, 21 community health centres, 127 primary health centres, 396 sub-centres, one mental health hospital and two TB&CD hospitals.
He also expressed his sincere appreciation and acknowledgement to the Central government, developmental partners, donors and well-wishers, particularly Tata Sons and Tata Trust and all civil society groups, churches and NGOs, for their constant support.
He said the mammoth exercise was being carried out in the districts by the district taskforces under the supervision of the High Powered Committee with chief minister as its chairman.
Phom extended his deepest sympathies to all the bereaved and prayed that the Lord would bless and comfort them during this time of grief. He also wished speedy and full recovery to all patients and urged to be strong, courageous and not to lose hope as scores of people are praying and working tirelessly to overcome the pandemic.
As COVID-19 is here to stay, the minister said it was very natural to get worried and fear at this hour of crisis as no definite solution has been found till date to the virus. Though it did not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith, he said fortunately it has been proven that the virus could be contained and it must be contained at any cost. 
As the most important measures to prevent and control COVID-19 was to stay healthy, not get infected and prevent others from getting infected, he appealed to all citizens to adopt safe practices and adhere with the advisories issued by the State government from time to time as it is every individual’s responsibility to stay safe and healthy.


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