Nagaland governor had announced that the BSL-3 facility in Kohima wil be operational by the first week of May Credit: Representational image

Kohima: With work on the much-anticipated bio-safety level-3 laboratory at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) reaching an “advanced stage”, the countdown has begun for the inauguration of Nagaland’s first virology laboratory.

Nagaland health secretary revealed that the high-containment laboratory which was under construction since April will be operational in “few days” time. If the virology lab is operational by the first week of May, the installation of BSL-3 facility in Kohima will hit a record time of three weeks for the installation process as the work began after April 16.

COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits & PPE, masks, gloves & other accessories were flown into the state by the Indian Air Force (IAF). So far, 41 tonnes of medical consignments were flown under ‘Lifeline Udan’ with operation done under the Union ministry of civil aviation.

Health and family welfare secretary Kesonyu Yhome on Friday told reporters that the setting up of Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory at Kohima district hospital is in full swing and has reached an advanced stage. Adding that the state is geared up to finish the construction at the earliest possible time, Yhome hinted that it will be operational in few days.

Earlier on April 28, the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court through a PIL, ordered the state Government to set up at least two COVID-19 testing labs in the state within 10 days. Reacting to this, Yhome said that although the directive of the Court is respected, notifying a particular timeline for the construction “may not be right” as the construction of the laboratories require standard safety protocols.

Coincidently, the governor of Nagaland RN Ravi, on April 28 announced that the “much awaited BSL Lab at NHAK is likely to be operational by first week of May”. Taking to twitter, Kohima Raj Bhavan wrote: “Hon’ble Governor, Shri. R.N. Ravi held weekly COVID-19 meeting with state officials today on the 28th of April. State COVID-19 preparedness level was reviewed. The Governor is happy to announce that the much awaited BSL Lab at NHAK is likely to be operational by first week of May”.

In a subsequent tweet, it announced that the “work for BSL lab at CIHSR in Dimapur will commence right after the completion of the Lab at NHAK. It is likely to be made operational by mid May”.

On April 16, chief minister Neiphiu Rio informed that “equipment for setting up BSL- 3 at NHAK, along with technicians, have reached Nagaland”. Taking to twitter, Rio had acknowledged the Indian Council of Medical Research Delhi for “fulfilling the long-felt need of the government” to have its own testing facilities. “Work will begin immediately, round-the-clock, so that it is functional at the earliest,” he informed.

Later that evening, Rio informed that the equipment along with procured PPE has reached the NHAK in Kohima. The chief minister assured that the “infrastructure and human resource to run the laboratory is in place” and additional personnel will be trained. The chief minister and deputy chief minister along with other state officials visited NHAK on April 24 to check the work progress of the BSL-3 laboratory. “Reiterated the importance of safety of the laboratory and universal precautions. Happy to see the laboratory installation work in good progress,” Rio tweeted.

On April 26, the chief minister once again informed that the second consignment for the Bio-safety laboratories, along with technicians, has reached the state. “With this, work for setting-up the second biosafety laboratory at Referral Hospital Dimapur will also start immediately,” Rio assured.

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