Kohima: Although the number of COVID-19 positive cases continues to spike in Nagaland, Dr Vizolie Z Suokhrie, the principal director (PD) of health and family welfare, said that as per the present situation, a total lockdown in the state is not necessary as all cases are related to returnees and frontline workers in the quarantine centres, Covid care centres and Covid hospitals.
“There is no community spread till today in the state,” Dr Suokhrie told reporters during a press conference at the Directorate on Sunday. Although the situation may someday demand for total lockdown, he said that as per the present situation, it is not necessary. “Right now, our situation is very clear,” he said, adding that all positive cases have been detected from among the returnees and frontline workers in the quarantine centres, which in a way have led to immediate containment of the virus.
He assured that primary and secondary contacts of frontline workers have all tested negative for COVID-19 and are put in quarantine but will be released only after the second test is declared as negative.
With consecutive spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the quarantine centres of Peren, Mon and Kohima districts, he said that the department is “closely monitoring about the transmission and recent increase of positive cases”. Among the confirmed cases in Kohima, three frontline workers in the line of duty and 43 members of paramilitary forces who returned to the state also tested positive for COVID-19. In Mon and Peren districts, the number of positive cases continues to spike among the returnees in the quarantine centres. Twelve frontline workers from Mon district who were associated with the quarantine centres also tested positive for COVID-19 while in the line of duty.
Expressing concern over the rise of positive cases among those people in the quarantine centres, Dr Suokhrie said that discipline of people in quarantine centres needs to be strengthened. He said that infection in the quarantine centres will likely spike if people in quarantine centres does not follow protocols. He cited how some people in a particular quarantine centre celebrated birthdays and failed to maintain social distancing norms.
He said that the department is in touch with the districts to find ways on how to implement disciplinary measures in the quarantine centres. “The more days that they are being kept, it is causing more danger. So we need to see that,” he added. While the government “cannot do it alone”, he said that if all stakeholders come hand in hand with the police and the medical department, “transmission even within the inmates” can be contained.
In regard to the spike of COVID-29 cases among the army personnel posted at Jakhama under Kohima district, Dr Suokhrie said that he has written to the authority to ensure that there is proper discipline and proper containment measures that needs to be followed. Refuting rumours, he clarified that no official from the state’s secretariat in Kohima has tested positive.
He also revealed that a strategy has been worked out with the Peren district and officers including lab technicians and data entry operators from the Directorate will be sent to the district to assist the administration and to clear the backlogs in the district. As the district of Mon has intensified its containment strategies, he said that all requirement placed by the administration will be supplemented, which includes sending adequate testing kits and PPEs.
Dr Suokhrie, however said that there is a “worry” if discipline among the public such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of mask in crowded places, maintaining respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene are not followed. “If we are able to live with this new lifestyle, then total lockdown may not be necessary. But if we are not able to do that, then even if we don’t want, we may have to go for total lockdown later on,” he said.
“Your safety is your responsibility,” the doctor stressed. He said that every individual needs to take responsibility in preventing the spread of infection by following the protocols of maintaining social distancing and personal hygiene which may be “Simple but probably not very easy to follow”.
Limited local transmission and no community transmission
“At the moment, there is limited local transmission,” said Dr Nyanthung Kikon, nodal officer for IDSP. He said that that some frontline workers were infected with the coronavirus through persons who were confirmed with COVID-19 at the quarantine centres and COVID hospitals which is “inevitable”. However there has been no community transmission in the state.
Community transmission is when a person with no history of travel or history of contact with known cases of COVID-19 gets infected with the virus. The mystery of the infection then becomes a worry. However, all cases in the state are link and established to someone who tested positive, added Dr Sao Tunyi, Consultant GIZ.
Meanwhile Dr Suokhrie said that the department is working on revising the existing Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) in regard to containment zones. He said that if a frontline worker test positive for COVID-19, there is no requirement to immediately seal the locality of the resident as a containment zone as it creates panic at all levels.
He said that it will have to strategically work on declaring areas as containment zones. In the panic situation, he said that things are overdone, which is a “good thing” but creates a panicky situation among the community. Therefore, he said that a revised SOP in regard to the containment plans has to be made for the betterment of society and that one must learn to live with COVID-19.