Inside Nagaland’s COVID-19 ‘War Room’


A view of Nagaland COVID-19 ‘War Room.’ (Morung Photo)


In an exclusive interview, Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy talks about State’s efforts to combat COVID-19 so far and future course of action




Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | April 29


The Conference Hall of the Chief Secretary of Nagaland, which has been functioning as the COVID-19 ‘War Room’ for almost a month now, is where about 20-odd people have been gathering everyday (including Sundays) to closely monitor the situation in the state.


Besides the pandemic, the team has been constantly working along the issue of health, essential commodities, daily wage earners, stranded people, public order and analysis.


These officials were personally handpicked and drawn from different departments by the Chief Secretary of Nagaland, Temjen Toy following Nagaland Governor, RN Ravi’s suggestion to have a ‘war room.’


‘Handpicked’ officials 

Having set it up immediately after, the ‘war room’ has been operational for the past 3 weeks with a vibrant team of officers led by the Chief Secretary himself. They clearly do not mind the extra working hours that generally stretch from 8:00 am to about 9:00 pm on a ‘normal’ day. 


In an exclusive interview held in the Chief Secretary’s office on Wednesday, Temjen Toy told The Morung Express that “we are constantly upgrading ourselves and we are learning from good practices.” 


“There are people in this room whose sole job is to scan the web, look for good practices, which we are trying to put into practice here,” he added.  There are other set of people who are working on different areas of concern.
Affirming that “my team here are working very hard and are a very motivated lot,” he said that it gives him “certain degree of satisfaction despite all what people may say, we do have workers who are reliable and efficient and are good at what they do.” 


“We live in a society where there are lot of criticisms on a lot of things but we go on regardless. We are not here to cheat the people or try and do anything contrary to what is right,” he put across.


This also comes amidst criticisms flooding social media against the government’s unpreparedness in the face of COVID-19. The team, however, has been silently playing their roles in the fight against the global pandemic. 
“It sometimes hurts us but we go on regardless. We cannot afford to slow down while addressing those issues,” Toy divulged. 


Lessons learnt 

Regarding the COVID patient from Nagaland currently being treated in Guwahati, the Chief Secretary said, the incident has taught them a lot of lessons—“many things that we should have done but not done and a lot of gaps in coordination, these are all lessons learnt”. 


On the status of the patient, he said “our people are in constant touch with Guwahati Medical College Hospital.  We are told that he is recovering, and is in the ward now although several more tests will need to be done.”
Another concern he raised was that while the state is talking of COVID-19 now, the world is talking of the second wave. 


When it first happened, “the world over, nobody was prepared. But when the second wave comes, we cannot say, we are not prepared. We cannot say this is new to us,” he expressed, indicating the degree of determination and preparedness.   


Impressing upon that clinically, this is ‘God-given time’ to prepare ourselves, he informed that the Health Department is now also in touch with the Veterinary Department to further strengthen the combat against the COVID crisis. 


In the meantime, instruction has been given to the health department that every nurse should have exposure to at least the basic functioning of ICU, he said. 


Swabs of every deceased person to be taken


A new instruction has been given this morning is to take the swab of every deceased person to ensure that the deceased is virus-free.


“The fact that we don’t have any cases, we can’t take any chances”, the chief secretary stated. “Any person dying in Nagaland whether at home or hospitals, it may not be possible to cover everyone but instruction is being given to the extent possible that all people who are dying for whatever cause, their swabs to be taken so we are absolutely sure”, he said.


Impressing upon that there might be a possibility of some who are hiding, he reiterated: "Swabs will be taken for any reported death.”


Post lockdown scenario - slow exit

Dwelling on the post Lockdown, the chief secretary said, “I have a feeling that now whatever relaxation and exit policy that the Government of India comes up with, it will be more on those three types of zones- Red, Orange and Green.”  


Concerning Nagaland, he pointed out that it can’t go back to taking it lightly but has to be calculative and act accordingly. 


To this end, he said, “We are working on how to slowly exit.”


“We should not panic, but we should remember to be cautious all the time. This is happening during our lifetime, the old normal is gone forever now, we have to get used to the new normal,” Toy further stressed.