Preliminary works for BSL Level 2 in Dimapur has also begun  Credit: Representational image

Kohima: As Nagaland’s first virology laboratory at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) completes construction of the structure, the bio-safety laboratory level-3 is all set to undergo the process of certification from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Nagaland health secretary Kesonyu Yhome confirmed to EastMojo that on receiving a formal approval from ICMR, sample testing for COVID-19 will be begin in the state.

Speaking with EastMojo, Yhome said that the final touches of the BSL level-3 were completed on Friday and a “documentation” form will be sent to the ICMR on Saturday for the certification of the laboratory. He informed that the certification process has no specific timeline and the state will have to wait for the approval to initiate COVID-19 sample testing. The preliminary work for BSL-2 in, Dimapur began on Thursday, Yhome informed.

Yhome said that the bad weather condition in the state during the past days has also delayed the construction as the multi-layer epoxy flooring was naturally disturbed. He added that in the process of quickening the construction work, the safety protocols cannot be compromised.

“The inauguration of the laboratory is not an issue and can be done anytime but that it is not the important. The focus is on the testing part which is very significant. So, the government has taken a conscious decision to see that the priorities are correct,” said Yhome.

With no specific timeline for the certification process, he said that there will be apprehension among the public if the laboratory is inaugurated ahead of the formal approval from the concerned authority.

Reiterating that the safety protocols for the laboratory cannot be compromised, he said that the all efforts have been made to ensure the safety of all health care workers who will be assigned in the laboratory as well the people living around it.

Expertise for the BSL level-3 in Kohima

Yhome said that certified experts from the state, including a senior specialist and four research scientists will be engaged in the laboratory. He added that microbiologists and other specialists will be assigned as per requirement.

On the overall preparedness of the state

The health secretary said that the state all COVID-19 hospitals across the state are equipped. He pointed how mock drills are repeatedly conducted across the state in order to physically and mentally prepare the health care workers to safely handle patients in case any positive case is reported in the state.

“We can never be over prepared but we have come a long way from where it started and made a lot of progress. Our preparedness will be tested only when we start dealing with a positive case,” he said. He added that the offices of all chief medical officers across the state are in close coordination with the department and that all protocols are put in place.

Dr Nyanthung Kikon, the nodal office of the department, also added that the department has learnt a lot from its shortcomings in the past months and is trying its best to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state. He said that health care workers, including those from other related fields, such as veterinarians, are also been trained.

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