Health dept yet to issue instructions on Covid-19

Dept on high alert, says Libang

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Mar 5: The state’s health department is yet to issue any instructions to the private hospitals and clinics regarding steps to initiate with patients who are suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
Doctors at a private clinic and the RK Mission Hospital here said they have received no instruction whatsoever on what to do when patients come in with flu-like symptoms, which are similar to Covid-19.
On being enquired about where one could seek a test for Covid-19, a doctor said, “The swab sample testing is done in Pune,” and when information was sought on how one could send samples through the hospitals here, the doctor said, “Instructions have to come from the government. We cannot do anything unless authorities give us proper directives.
“At the moment we are only providing prescriptions and medicines based on the usual flu symptoms,” he said.
Some doctors are taking preventive measures and taking blood samples to verify other illnesses as they cannot test for Covid-19 in their labs.
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme’s (IDSP) State Surveillance Officer (SSO), Dr L Jampa, said that, as of now, “swab sample collection for testing will be done at the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS, Naharlagun), the Bakin Pertin General Hospital (BPGH, Pasighat, East Siang), and all district hospitals as and when necessary.
“The testing will be done in Guwahati Medical College, Assam, and the result shall be made available within 24 hours,” he said.
There is a set of definitions and contact-categorization a person has to meet before they are asked to provide a swab sample of their naso-pharynx for testing, Dr Jampa said.
The SSO, who was on his way to Delhi with other senior officers to attend a training on Covid-19 being conducted on Friday by the WHO and the NCDC, said that private hospitals will be roped in to coordinate, and more training programmes will be held in the state by next week.
TRIHMS Director, Dr Moji Jini, informed that though no case of the coronavirus has been detected in the state yet, the hospital authorities have prepared an isolation ward at the TRIHMS.
He, however, said that the isolation ward will be operational “only after the expert team returns from New Delhi and after TRIHMS receives further directions from the government in this regard.”

Dept on high alert: Libang
Meanwhile, in the legislative assembly on Thursday, Health & Family Welfare Minister Alo Libang informed that his department is “on high alert and working hard towards prevention of entry of the coronavirus infection into the state, with necessary help from the central government.”
He said that isolation wards with minimum two beds in district hospitals/general hospitals and five beds each in the TRIHMS and the BPGH have been identified.
The health department will further identify facilities in Papum Pare, West Kameng, Siang, Lohit, Lower Dibang Valley and Tirap districts as a quarantine measure.
Informing about the logistics that have been put in place in the state, the minister said that procurement of further buffer stock of personal protective equipment has been placed with the Centre.
He said early detection through points of entry will be established at all check gates for screening of passengers coming from outside Arunachal.
The minister informed that surveillance and contact tracing will be done through the IDSP for tracking travellers in the community who have travelled from affected countries, and to detect clustering, if any, of acute respiratory illness. Also, travellers’ lists from the Covid-19 affected countries to India are shared with the states by the NCDC, Delhi, he said.
“For testing of suspected cases, we have with us the sample collection kits, which is called VTM (virus transport medium) and supplied by the ICMR, Dibrugarh, and the testing will be done at Guwahati Medical College. Also, a national level training of trainers (ToT) workshop is being organized by the union health & family welfare ministry in collaboration with the WHO on 6 March, with participants from all states and UTs at Delhi,” Libang said.
In the second phase, he said, state level ToT workshops will be initiated in the second week of March, and will include personnel from the civil aviation, the defence, the railways, the NDMA and the paramilitary.
“This will be followed by district level and hospital level trainings in this month,” he added.
Libang informed that a 24×7 control room has been set up at the state IDSP for responding to any queries on coronavirus, such as travel advisories, guidance documents, and the do’s and don’ts. The control room’s numbers are 9436055743, 9612153293 and 9599929423.
“The state and the districts have rapid response teams to act as first responders for any cases, if detected in our state,” the minister said.
Libang urged all remain alert, but said “there is no need to panic.”
He requested the district administrations and line departments like police, civil aviation, tourism, PRI and disaster management to coordinate with the health department till the situation is brought under full control.