Nagaland will finally have a laboratory to test COVID-19 as the much-awaited BSL lab equipment for setting up one such laboratory arrived in Dimapur on Thursday.
The consignment weighing 18 tons was brought from Mumbai in a special flight of the India Air Force (IAF), C-17 Globemaster at the request of Nagaland governor RN Ravi to defence minister Rajnath Singh.
A technical team also arrived along with the highly sophisticated equipment needed to set up the BSL-3 lab at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK).
The flight, which was scheduled to arrive at Dimapur airport on Wednesday, was delayed as the weather suddenly turned worse in Assam.
Considering the urgency of setting up the lab in the state, the IAF made efforts to use Bangladesh airspace through diplomatic channels but with a cyclonic storm moving towards east the journey had to be cancelled and arrived here on Thursday.
The next consignment for BSL lab at Dimapur is expected to arrive soon. The consignment will be airlifted by a special IAF aircraft.
Equipment for setting up BSL-3 lab at NHAK along with technicians have reached Nagaland, chief minister Neiphiu Rio tweeted.
Rio thanked the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, for fulfilling the long-felt need of the government to “have our own testing facilities”.
“Work will begin immediately, round-the-clock, so that it is functional at the earliest,” he said.
State health and family welfare minister S. Pangnyu Phom also said the setting up of the lab will be done on a war footing and made operational immediately.
“Now, with this, our state will have our own testing lab,” Phom tweeted.
A patient with COVID-19 symptoms was shifted from Dimapur to Guwahati Medical College Hospital on April 12.
He tested positive for the virus there and is undergoing treatment.
The state government thanked the IAF, defence ministry and the Centre for extending continued support and cooperation to fight COVID-19 in the state.
In the past 15 days, the IAF has flown six dedicated missions to carry almost 40 tons of essential items by using the latest American C-17 Globemaster, C130 J Super Hercules and Russian IL 76 MD special tactical military transport aircraft in its inventory.
Besides Nagaland, two other northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram do not have testing facilities for COVID-19.