Once Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is invoked, state will have every right to do anything to anyone who is not cooperating with directives issued over coronavirus prevention
Kohima: Following the Central government’s decision, which advised all states and Union Territories to invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to enforce all advisories issued by the ministry/state/UTs from time to time, the Nagaland government is likely to invoke the said provisions of the Act soon.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Dr Vizolie Z Suokhrie, principal director of health & family welfare, said that the state will invoke the Epidemic Diseases Act in two-three days' time. This statement comes as a response to a query raised by a journalist which questioned the role of the state in enforcing strict compliance of the advisory orders issued by the state government so far.
Suokhrie said that once the Epidemic Act is invoked, the state will have every right to do anything to anyone who is not cooperating with the directives issued by the state government. He also informed that the need to invoke the said Act was deliberated in the high-level review meeting held with the chief minister on Monday, ahead of the presser.
In all, 2,889 persons have so far been screened at the airport in Dimapur and two persons are under home quarantine. As of 6 pm on Monday, 228 persons are under surveillance and 3,281 persons are so far tracked by the department. With no suspect cases arising, no samples have so far been sent for testing. Suokhrie said that the transportation facilities for sample collection and testing are already activated in the state. For testing, he said that laboratory centres in Dibrugarh, Guwahati and Imphal are activated and that results of any sample testing sent to these centres will be responded within six hours.
Suokhrie informed that from March 6 till Monday, 73 foreign tourists were recorded in the state out of which three were in the state on Monday. Besides suspending fresh/new issue of Inner Line Permits (ILP) to both foreign and domestic tourists including other category holders on Monday, the state government has ordered that all tourists will be banned into the state with effect from March 18 till further notice.
On preparedness, 66 isolation beds have been prepared across Nagaland with all district hospitals having ventilator facilities. Suokhrie informed that while more isolation beds are to be identified, adequate supply of ventilator facilities will be provided. He said that two hospitals in Kohima district — Khuzama and Chedema — are identified as quarantine centres which can accommodate nearly 70 persons in total.
In Dimapur, the military hospital has identified nearly 70 beds for quarantine and could increase the beds depending on need. A hostel which belongs to the Dimapur district’s health department is also identified as a quarantine centre with accommodation for nearly 40 persons. Private practitioners are also advised to identify and keep isolation beds ready for any eventuality.
While all other district teams were requested to prepare quarantine places, Suokhrie said that most districts have identified quarantine places, Wokha district is yet to identify a quarantine centre. However, all surveillance systems have been activated across all the districts. Suokhrie further informed that the police department will be providing security in case any need for cluster quarantine arises.
Suokhrie revealed that doctors, nurses and medical workers across all districts have made a routine to mend isolation wards in case of any eventuality, ensuing that Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs) are made available for all health workers. With 81 doctors and health workers trained at the recently concluded state level-training on COVID-19 preparedness, he said that further district level trainings and training of medical staff including paramilitary health staffs will continue across the state.
Adding that random testing is not encouraged, he said this season's common flu (cold) shares similar symptoms of COVID-19 and therefore urged people not to panic. He said that in case of such symptoms, persons with travel history to the affected countries or persons who came in contact with any positive case must be reported.
As part of its awareness campaign, the state government has put out posters of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and do’s and dont’s of COVID-19 across all districts. Translated versions of these posters into local dialects are also put up for mass awareness.
With most governmental departments joining hands in preparedness of COVID-19, he reiterated that the state is prepared in case of any eventuality. However, he encouraged citizens to maintain personal hygiene and self-distancing habits.