Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday said the State government is laying maximum emphasis to stop transmission of COVID-19 to rural areas in the State. 

“The virus should not go to rural areas. That is our priority,” he said while interacting with reporters at the Institute of Hotel Management at Darogajan on Tuesday. 

Rio, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, Health and Family Welfare Minister S Pangnyu Phom and others, inspected the infrastructure of the instituted which is being converted into a 100-bed COVID-19 makeshift hospital. He directed the authority concerned to complete the arrangements at the makeshift hospital within two weeks. 

Rio pointed out that Noklak district is the only district in the State which has not been touched by COVID-19 so far. 

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He said the State government is carrying out Covid-19 vaccination aggressively as the only remedy is the vaccine. 

When asked whether the government is providing free treatment to Covid patients at government set ups, he said, “We are trying to help those who cannot pay for their treatment. But those who can pay must pay.” 

He said the State government employees who are the most privileged class may have to cough up their one- or two-days’ salary towards fighting the pandemic. 

To query if there is any plan to levy Covid tax on the people, he said the government is not putting additional burden on the common people. 

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He, however, reminded that Nagaland is a consumer society and does not have its own resources. 

“Nothing comes for free,” Rio added. 

Before his visit to the institute, he took stock of the situation at Dimapur District Hospital, which has been converted into a Covid hospital, and inspected the recently installed PSA oxygen generation plant in the hospital complex.  

On the day, Rio inaugurated the 30-bed Covid hospital at Nagaland Police Referral Hospital complex at Chumukedima. 

This will further strengthen the capacity to treat Covid-19 patients, he said. 

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He expressed satisfaction with the arrangements at the Covid hospital which is equipped with seven ICU beds, five oxygen beds and 15 oxygen concentrators. He also inspected the upcoming 75-bed Covid hospital in the same complex. 

DGP T John Longkumer told the Chief Minister that the work at the new hospital is expected to be completed within 20 days. 

Later, the team proceeded to Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CISHR) at 4th Mile for site inspection of a new 176-bed Covid hospital at its premises. The CISHR is already treating a good number of Covid patients. 

CISHR Director Dr Sedevi Angami said the hospital should be ready within two months. 

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Rio also commissioned the 10 MVA transformer at CIHSR sub-station for reliable power supply to the oxygen plant there and the nearby areas. 

He thanked team Dimapur on Covid-19, frontline workers, civil societies, church organisations and all concerned for joining hands in the fight against the pandemic. 

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com