All 24 jawans who had tested negative will be re-tested after seven days Credit: Representational image/Twitter

Kohima: Following the central headquarters’ directive for the security forces to report to their respective places of posting, altogether 24 personnel from the 93 Bn of the Border Security Force (BSF) posted at Chedema under Kohima district, who were on leave and went to their respective homes, have returned to the state. All of them tested negative for COVID-19.

This was disclosed to EastMojo as this corespondent was followed up with the BSF battalion (Bn) in Nagaland to check on the preventive measures taken to contain the spread of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in the state as the neighbouring state of Tripura recorded a spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases from the BSF personnel. There are two BSF battalions in Nagaland — 93 Bn BSF at Chedema under Kohima district and 111 Bn BSF at Satakha under Zunheboto district.

As these BSF personnel, who returned to the state from various parts of the country after availing of their leave period, might be carriers of the virus, EastMojo gives an exclusive insight on the latest development and the preventive measures taken by the BSF in the state in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Sources on condition of anonymity confirmed that the 24 security personnel had returned to the state on May 5 by road, out of which 11 persons were from red zones, one from orange zone and 12 from green zones. On arrival, these personnel were sent to the COVID-19 Naga Hospital in Kohima where the samples were collected for testing on May 6, the sources said.

All samples of the security forces had tested negative on May 7. However, a subsequent COVID-19 test is to be conducted after seven days. With the intervention of the state government, deployment of security forces into the state has also been stopped from the higher level. While all kinds of duty leave for security persons have been frozen, the return of security forces into the state will be facilitated on a phase-wise basis only once the lockdown is lifted and as per requirement.

Assuring that all necessary preventive measures are put in place, the sources said that the public need not to panic or worry about the presence of these security forces. The sources informed that the 10-bedded hospital at the battalion’s headquarter, although not equipped to treat COVID-19 positive patients, has ensured that the safety of its health workers are not compromised. The hospital is equipped with one doctor, three pharmacists, sufficient thermal scanners and PPE kits and essential medical equipment in stock. The source said that any COVID-19 suspect—those showing symptoms of the virus—are immediately referred to the COVID-19 hospital for necessary intervention, as per the protocol of the government.

The managerial structure of the office is presently functioning with skeletal staff working on a rotational basis ensuring that all protocols are maintained. The source informed that the battalion is in close cooperation with the civil administration, the local area organizations, further ensuring all possible assistance and coordination.

Preparedness of the 93 Bn BSF

The sources said that the battalion has identified quarantine barracks where the 24 persons who have returned to the state recently are divided into three groups—according to the zone from where they returned—and are put under mandatory quarantine for 21 days.

While civilians are restricted from entering the campus of the battalion, all security personnel are also prohibited to venture out of the battalion campus during the lockdown period. The sources further expressed concern that as security forces and their families are residing within the campus, there is no compromise on the preventive measures that needs to be taken to contain the spread of the virus.

Civic activities in times of COVID-19 pandemic

With nearly 90 local households around the vicinity of the battalion, the security forces have also been disinfecting around the houses of the civilians and public places twice a week to ensure that the locality remains sanitized. The force also distributed masks to the people.

19 BSF personnel under quarantine in Dimapur

Sources also informed EastMojo that 19 BSF personnel entered the state on Thursday and are under the state government’s facility quarantine. When inquired, the sources said that there is no report of any movement of the BSF personnel into the state. The source also said that ever since the lockdown was announced, there has been no movement of personnel to the 111 Bn BSF posted at Satakha under Zunheboto district, as well.

So, EastMojo reached out to Dr Nyanthung Kikon, the nodal officer of IDSP, health and family welfare department, for confirmation. Kikon said that the 19 BSF personnel had entered the state en-route to its final destination in Manipur via Dimapu-Kohima route. The personnel are put under the state government’s quarantine centre and their samples will be collected for testing on Saturday, Kikon informed.

Kikon reiterated that the 24 Nagaland based BSF personnel who returned to the state on May 5 has all tested negative and will be re-tested after seven days.

Meanwhile, sources told EastMojo that all guidelines and protocols that are directed by the Central government and the state government from time to time, are strictly enforced in both the BSF battalions in Nagaland.

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