A man from Nagaland tested COVID-19 positive in Assam on Sunday

Kohima: The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has lashed out at the state government after the state’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in Assam on Sunday. Saying that more emphasis on the “social and health sectors” rather than uninterrupted focus on festivals and entertainment would have avoided the situation, it pointed out that “last-minute work” in the “hospitals or health centres will not be enough to handle the flow of patients if COVID-19 infection spreads”.

A statement issued by the party’s media cell said that the midnight announcement on Sunday about the first COVID-19 positive case from Nagaland “confirmed the worst fears of people living under lockdown for past the 20 days. It said that the announcement made by Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has “caught the state government completely unawares”.

“As the threat of pandemic increases, the incompetence of political leadership in Nagaland is more glaring than ever before. Last-minute work in sprucing up some hospitals or health centres will not be enough to handle the flow of patients if COVID-19 infection spreads,” the party said.

It said that the state should already have a COVID-19 testing lab in place rather than assuring that it is in progress. The party also pointed the deficiency of PPEs and other critical medical equipment which is a disgrace and has demoralised the frontline health care workers. The reluctance of the state government to opt for participatory approach from all political parties is baffling, it added.

NPCC said that the inspection visits to hospitals, distribution of some medical kits and food items are the only visible work of the PDA government. “If only importance was given to social and health sectors, things would have not been as bad as it is now. The uninterrupted focus on festivals, entertainment and other merry making activities has exposed Nagaland badly before the nation as things stand today,” it added.

The statement further said: “It is also disturbing to note that the ruling party legislators are on a publicity spree while handing over government procured items like hand sanitizers, mask, gloves and food items to district administration or people. The public are being made to believe that the essential items are being personally procured and donated by the minister or ruling MLA which is distressing in these extraordinary times. In the past month alone, hundreds of crores have been sanctioned by the government of India to fight COVID-19.”

It pointed out the there was a “huge deficiency” in distribution of relief materials and there is practice of “discrimination and favoritism particularly on political lines”. “The best that the state government can do at this juncture is to rise up to the occasion and create an all inclusive approach. All districts and assembly constituencies must be given fair and equal treatment without any political bias,” it added.

It concluded saying that during these extraordinary times when lives are at stake, there is no space to “create own silos and perish like fools. There will be enough time to do politicking if we survive this pandemic”. It urged the people of Nagaland other than those needed in frontline fight to stay home and be safe.

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