10 deaths in the state has been confirmed as COVID-19 deaths Credit: Representational image

Kohima: Nagaland is witnessing a gradual upward turn in death cases among COVID-19 patients. As per the latest official statistics, a total of 18 COVID-19 patients have died out of which ten are COVID-19 related deaths, five are not due to COVID-19 and another three deaths are under investigation.

The first death of a COVID-19 positive person was reported in Dimapur on July 24 when the RT-PCR test of the deceased was declared as positive for COVID-19. In just that week, another four deaths from Dimapur were reported taking the death toll to five, and all deaths were put under investigation to establish the link as due to COVID-19.

On July 28, the state’s health department confirmed that four out of the five deaths reported in the state is related to COVID-19 and that one “Covid-19 positive patient is not due to Covid-19”. The medical department then confirmed the tenth COVID-19 fatality in the state on September 15, when the results of two out of five deaths under investigation were established as due to COVID-19. It was then established that ten deaths out of 15 reported deaths in Nagaland are due to COVID-19.

Following this, the medical department on September 17, through its daily bulletin informed that three more deaths are under investigation. With this, a total of 18 COVID-19 patients from the state have died. So far, ten out of these deaths are COVID-19 related deaths, five are not due to COVID-19 and the rest three deaths are still under investigation. Although the COVID-19 death rate is ‘low’ in the state, it is witnessing a gradual upward turn.

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Speaking with reporters at the Directorate of health and family welfare, Nodal officer IDSP, Dr Nyanthung Kikon admitted there are “shortcomings in the health system also”. Kikon said that Dimapur has reported more number of deaths.

Out of the total 18 COVID-19 patients who died in the state, three are from Mon and the rest are from Dimapur. Out of the three deaths reported from Mon, two are under investigation and one death is COVID-19 positive but not due to COVID-19.

Dr Kikon informed that the median age of the 10 official COVID-19 deaths is 50 years. As per the gender based distribution, eight are males and two are females. He informed that few death cases have also been reported from outside the COVID hospitals, without disclosing the exact distribution of where the deaths have been reported from.

Addressing on the issue of delay in conducting the investigation processes, he informed that only after the district death review committee submits the report of the deaths, the state death review committee declares the final result—if a death is linked to COVID-19 or not. Most deaths in the state are persons with co-morbid conditions.

He said that the recent spike in the number of positive cases in the state also contributed to the delay as he recalled that the said that the positivity rate witnessed a spike of around 20%-22%. Another factor is the manpower constraint as the medical workers are engaged in surveillance, contact tracing, covid duty, or in quarantine.

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In regard to the death cases that were reported in August, he said that the district death review committee was able to thoroughly investigate only in September. When the state death review committee received the reports, it again takes some time.

He explained that clinicians, microbiologists from the centre of excellence at Naga hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) are required to join the health officials at the directorate to investigate into the deaths.

“We take some time [to investigate] but [we] want to fast-track the process. That is one area which we thought of improving,” he said. He then said that it still has a long way to go in handling the pandemic.

Meanwhile, due to man power constraints, he revealed that all staffs at the Bio safety laboratories are being utilized for diagnostic purposes and are channelized towards testing. However, researches at the BSLs will be conducted “as and when needed”. Although not comprehensive researches, he said that general analysis of the COVID-19 trend in the state and weekly analysis are being conducted.

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COVID-19 situation the state:

The health official said that overall, the situation is the state is okay for the moment. “There is nothing to let our guards down neither should the public let their guards down also. But there should be no complacency,” Dr Kikon said.

With the daily surge in the number of positive cases in the state, the health official said that it is solely the responsibility of the people to follow the necessary guidelines. With the observation that the public are more complacent now, he said that it has a lot to do with behavioral changes as the department or the state cannot monitor all.

Till Friday, Nagaland reported 5,357 positive cases of COVID-19. A total of 4,108 patients have recovered and 1,213 are current active cases. As per the official COVID-19 status, the deaths under investigation continues to be reflected in the active case tally till the time the cause of death is ascertained.

Also Read: Nagaland: 51 new COVID-19 cases detected; tally climbs to 5,357

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