From left: Principal Director Dr Vizolie Suokhrie, Deputy director Dr Kikameren Longkumer, and Nodal officer IDSP Dr Nyanthung Kikon addressing a press conference

Kohima: Nagaland health department says that the state has no immediate plans to conduct plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients as most COVID-19 cases in the state are asymptomatic.

The number of recovered cases in the state continues to surpass the number of active cases. The current recovery rate in Nagaland is 83.8% with 3501 recovered patients. There are 657 active cases in the state, and among them, 646 are asymptomatic, ten are mild symptomatic, and one is moderate symptomatic.

During a press conference on Sunday, Dr Nyanthung Kikon, the nodal officer IDSP said that all recovered patients in the state are “potential plasma donors” and that it is a “good sign”. Convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental procedure in which a recovered COVID-19 patient’s plasma is infused into an infectee so the antibodies can help the infectee fight the virus.

Dr Kikon said that the recovered patients could become “plasma donors at the later stage if at all it is required”. With most COVID-19 patients being asymptomatic and no severe or critically ill COVID-19 patients, the state has so far no immediate plans to seek plasma donations from recovered patients for plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients.

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Principal director Dr Vizolie Suokhrie said that recovered patients develops an immune system that gives body protection. While COVID-19 patients face stigmatization, he said that persons infected with COVID-19 so far might become resistant to the virus when the state enters a stage of severity.

The state has so far reported eight confirmed deaths of COVID-19. Besides these deaths, two fatalities were of COVID-19 positive patients, but they died because of other health conditions, and another five deaths are under investigation.

When questioned about the spike in death cases, Dr Vizolie said most deaths are due to co-morbid conditions of the deceased. He added that in most cases, patients were brought late to the hospital. In some cases they were referred from one hospital to another at the last hour.

COVID-19 has created panic not only among the public but also among the frontline workers; he said that the co-morbid conditions also led to the ‘crisis’.

On the query about the source of COVID-19 infection reported from non-COVID-19 hospitals, Dr Nyanthung said that so far, the epidemiological link of the infections has been established. However, it was not disclosed during the press briefing.

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As the district hospital in Dimapur is now functioning as both COVID hospital and non-COVID hospital, Dr Vizolie said that the general OPD services at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) which was converted to a COVID hospital will also be fully functional in a week.

Unlike the district hospital in Dimapur which has multiple buildings, he said that the NHAK which is comparatively congested, will take some time to resume as non-COVID hospital. The COVID-19 patients currently admitted to the NHAK will only be discharged from the hospital after recovery, even if essential health care services resume.

Besides the NHAK, there is the Chedema COVID-19 hospital available for moderate and severe cases, and the Meriema COVID Care Centre (CCC) for asymptomatic patients. For under-trial prisoners (UTP), a separate facility has been assigned at the CCC in Chümoukedima.

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Meanwhile, the state has conducted over 50,000 COVID tests, said Dr Suokhrie. Around 700-800 samples are being tested in a day, and due to less backlog, test results declared within 24 hours. All the BSLs in the state are said to be fully functional.

The department is also facilitating private hospitals in the state to conduct COVID-19 testing. Dr Vizolie also said that due to non-availability of a COVID-19 certificate, no patient should be denied treatment anywhere. He therefore encouraged all private hospitals also to conduct COVID-19 tests.

Deputy director Dr Kikameren Longkumer added that testing in the state are done rationally and on need basis. He said that the department is also encouraging military and para-military forces to conduct COVID-19 testing.

“If they have the resources, the department has no objections,” he said. He said that the department will facilitate the private and military practitioners for COVID-19 testing. He added that there are limited resources in the state, and there is also a shortage of microbiologists or pathologists, which is a way is also holding back private players.

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