Kohima: Nagaland health minister S Pangnyu Phom on Thursday informed that the state government has set up a Paediatric Task Force under a senior Director of the health and family welfare (H&FW) with experts drawn from the private and public sector to look into the state’s preparedness for the third wave of COVID-19.

While alarming that the state has to be prepared for the third wave, he said that the state government has proceeded to prepare for the third wave. He said that vaccination against COVID-19 is targeted to cover the entire population as it is the most effective weapon against the virus.

“We have identified infrastructural requirements and other areas where we need to strengthen. We are taking steps to further strengthen our ICU beds, testing facilities as well as create additional capacities at the sub-district level to cope with the possible third wave more effectively,” he said.

The health minister said that there are also several challenges about vaccine hesitancy, testing hesitancy and the capacities of the healthcare delivery system which will continue to be addressed.

To meet the increasing cases of hospitalization, he said that it has ramped up the bed strength to 1153 beds with 296 Beds without oxygen support, 669 Beds with oxygen support, 99 ICU beds without ventilators and 89 ICU beds with ventilators from 805 with 608 beds without oxygen support and 68 beds with oxygen support, 68 ICU beds without ventilators and 61 ICU beds with ventilators, before the second wave.

He informed that the 200 bedded hospital with 24 paediatric beds for acute medical care in CIHSR Dimapur is likely to get operational by September.

Pangnyu also said that efforts are made on a war footing to augment the oxygen capacity. He said that the state has procured oxygen cylinders and at present have nearly 6000 cylinders of various capacities as compared to 1417 cylinders at the beginning of the pandemic last year.

“The total capacity of oxygen that can be stored in these cylinders is more than 17.5 Metric Ton. In addition, PSA Oxygen Generation Plants along with oxygen piping and generator backup have been installed at Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung, Tuensang and Phek to ensure availability of bedside oxygen. These have a daily capacity of 3.7 metric tons,” he said.

He added that PSA Plants has been procured and are under installation for other districts as well. Over 2000 concentrators procured and received by the government has been deployed at various medical facilities in the state.

Pangnyu added “We have strengthened our oxygen supply chain, putting in place a State Depot in Dimapur and a Zonal Depot at Mokokchung. Resultantly, despite the sudden surge in cases, no patient had to suffer on account of lack of availability of oxygen or hospital beds”.

Out of 688 ventilators, 239 ventilators were distributed to various health facilities including private hospitals. Besides the 3 BSL laboratories, the government established 25 Truenat and 362 Rapid Antigen Testing facilities for COVID-19 across the State, Pangnyu informed.

He also acknowledged the efforts of faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, village authorities, and all elected representatives in fighting against COVID-19. We seek their continued cooperation, further appreciating all those who assisted the state government.

“The healthcare workers and frontline workers, both in the private and government sector, have been at the forefront and have put in their best efforts, performing their duties for long working hours and under stressful conditions. Nothing can substitute the hard work and risks that they are taking,” he said.

Furthermore, Pangnyu urged everyone to continue to work together addressing the various challenges of COVID-19 pandemic in the State.

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