The announcement to depute selected officers drawn from various departments for effective management of COVID-19 situation in Nagaland on May 1 is a 'timely' course correction, but concerns remain as to whether the intervention is a tad late.
The order from the State Chief Secretary cited the steady increase in new COVID-19 cases as the main reason behind the deputation of the team of officers with various responsibilities effective immediately. The officers were tasked with the onus of planning, monitoring, management and supervision of various tasks as “immediate steps” to tackle the situation.
In doing so, it injected a semblance of confidence and order into what can be termed as a ‘haphazard’ response to the resurgence of cases in the recent past.
For instance, while the cases have been consistently increasing since the first half of April necessitating the reactivation of the Nagaland State Level ‘COVID-19 War Room’ on April 22, laxity and lack of cohesive approach was discernable on the ground, despite a flurry of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), guidelines and district-specific measures. It culminated with the confusing declaration of the two-week ‘lockdown-like’ measures starting April 30.
As noted by this column last week, at ground level, implementation and seriousness were missing, with both the concerned authorities and the general public equally at fault in one way or the other; that the course correction came nearly 10 days after the activation of the State Level War Room on COVID-19 affirms such observation. The rapid increase in cases since April 20 may have acted as a trigger for action.
As per the Weekly Bulletin issued by the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), the overall test positivity rate in Nagaland for the April 24-30 period was an alarming 25%. More importantly, it was 18% in State capital Kohima and an astounding 37% in the commercial capital Dimapur. Consequently, the Nagaland Government on May 3 has declared most areas in Dimapur and Kohima as containment zones.
Nevertheless, it is expected that the pertinent course correction would present a cohesive response in tackling the worsening situation.
Among others, it was informed that the tasked assigned included ensuring adequate availability of medical oxygen at all health care establishments as well as monitoring of available beds in intensive care units; oxygen supported beds and COVID Care Centre beds. This is critical as across the country, the second wave has shown how the ill-prepared healthcare system was overwhelmed by the unprecedented surge in cases.
Other assignments include ensuring effective quarantine and home isolation; adequate availability of essential drugs; providing tele-consultation; and overseeing the quality of clinical management of cases; testing and surveillance, and status of vaccination.
Another important aspect of the new orientation was tasking the teams to update status on their assigned responsibilities regularly on the dashboard maintained by the ‘COVID-19 War Room.’ This is crucial as information on health verticals of each district, which was available on the ‘War Room’s portal before, has been dropped in its revamped avatar. This would also ensure transparency, quick access to available resources and ensure public confidence in the State’s response.
Implementation of assigned responsibility along with other measures in letter and spirit would determine how effectively the challenges of the second wave of COVID-19 are managed in Nagaland.
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