The curious case of Nagaland’s lone Covid-19 patient

Kohima/Guwahati, April 24 (IANS) Caught between two northeastern states, the fate of a 33-year-old Covid-19 patient, a native of Nagaland, is hanging in limbo.

According to the health officials in Guwahati, the lone novel coronavirus patient from Nagaland, a trader by profession, who is undergoing treatment at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) since April 12, has again tested positive in the third test after his second test had returned negative.

While the Nagaland government continues to maintain that there is no Covid-19 positive case in the state, the Assam government's coronavirus update makes no mention of the 33-year-old trader's case either.

In most of his tweets, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma mentioned only the positive and recovered cases of Assam.

None of Sarma's tweet updates included the Nagaland trader being treated in Assam, except one which mentioned that a private hospital in Nagaland had referred a man from Dimapur to GMCH after he showed symptoms akin to the dreaded disease.

An Assam health official said that it was evident that the man was infected in Nagaland, but was sent to Guwahati “because the state could not take care of such a case”.

“If the Nagaland authorities want to keep their Covid-19 status clean, we can't do anything about it,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

After the state's last positive case was reported from Bilasipara in Dhubri district in western Assam, Sarma had tweeted on Thursday that the total number of coronavirus cases in the state stood at 35. Of these, 19 were cured and discharged from different hospitals, while one person with a travel history to Saudi Arabia succumbed to the dreaded virus on April 10.

As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's official state-wise Covid-19 status updated on Friday morning, Assam had a total of 36 positive cases, of which 19 were cured/discharged/migrated, while one person had died. There was no mention of Nagaland or the state's lone positive case in the official state-wise breakup.

In Kohima, Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Secretary Kesonyu Yhome, while briefing the media on Thursday evening, had said that the positive case from Nagaland has been added to the tally of Assam as he had tested positive in that state.

Yhome said the patient will be tested for a fourth time on April 26.

“A total of 543 samples out of 607 sent from Nagaland have tested negative while the results of 64 samples are awaited. The samples include the close contacts of the state's lone positive case,” the official said.

Nagaland doesn't have a testing laboratory for Covid-19 yet, that's why samples collected from the state are sent to Assam for examination.

According to the health officials in Guwahati, a private hospital in Dimapur, the largest city in Nagaland, had referred the patient to GMCH after he was found with symptoms of coronavirus.

Nagaland Health Minister S. Pangnyu Phom had earlier said in a tweet: “Anyone who came in contact with the person (the lone positive case of the state) would be immediately quarantined, also certain locations would be sealed for general safety.”

The Dimapur trader belongs to an important business family which was the first Hindi-speaking settler in Nagaland, which was part of Assam until December 1, 1963. Dimapur is about 280 km east of Guwahati.

So far, the seven northeastern states have reported 55 coronavirus cases, including Nagaland's lone case. Assam leads the tally with 36 cases, followed by Meghalaya (12, 1 death), Manipur and Tripura (2 each), and Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram (1 each).



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