Nagaland: 4 COVID super spreader events in one week

3 occurred in office setting and one in a jail 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | November 21

Nagaland recorded 4 COVID-19 super spreader events the past week, which would explain the spike in case detection during the week. The week (November 14-20) saw Nagaland reporting 970 cases, the highest weekly tally since the previous high of 964 recorded in between July 31-August 6. 

“A record 970 cases were reported with a sample positivity rate of 23 percent as total confirmed cases crossed the 10,000 mark,” stated the latest COVID weekly roundup published by the state Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), Health & Family Welfare on November 21. 

Substantiating what the IDSP has been reiterating time and again, all four super spreaders occurred in “crowded and closed settings,” particularly work places. It occurred in two government offices (95 cases), a district jail (47 cases) and a post office (21 cases) adding 163 cases to the weekly total.

Super spreader events are defined as when one person spreads an infectious disease to a large number of other people through contact. 

Citing epidemiological measures, it said that 80 percent of cases “come only from 20 percent of the infected and these 20 percent are responsible for explosive growth and sustained transmission.”

“Superspreading relies on more than one person, and it cannot happen in isolation. It takes a group of people that gather in such a way that increases the risk of transmitting the virus.”

To prevent spread in offices, the IDSP advised staggered attendance and strict enforcement of the 3 Ws (Wear Mask, Watch Distance, and Wash Hands). 

Advising against preparing lunch in office premises, it said that employees should make their own arrangement from home, while, “Advent Christmas dinner/celebrations, birthday celebrations or any other social events should be strictly avoided in work places.”

It said that windows and doors should be left open for natural ventilation and anyone with COVID-19 like symptoms should not be allowed to come to work and testing for symptomatic people encouraged.

It further advised office drivers to avoid crowding while waiting in offices, while officers, fit enough to drive, should avoid using the services of designated drivers.  

Heads of Departments were asked to ensure the laid down SOPs for workplaces, while the public should strictly avoid crowded places, closed spaces and close contact settings) where the risk of infection is much higher.

Other major updates

As per the report, 4 COVID deaths were reported during week (as on November 20), while 64 percent of all deaths were below 60 years of age with hypertension and diabetes as the most common associated co-morbidities. November has so far reported 16 deaths. 

The sample positivity rate increased to 9.8 from 9.3 percent during the week. Meanwhile, the national positivity rate decreased to 6.9 percent. 

Nagaland tested 4,198 samples in between November 14-20 returning a positivity rate of 23 percent. For comparison, the previous week’s positivity rate worked out to 11 percent of 2,919 samples. 

The report said, “High sample positivity rate could also point to more undetected cases in the population.” 

Despite, testing continued on a snail’s pace relative to the national average. While the country was conducting 96.9 tests per thousand population, Nagaland was lagging far behind at 52.9 per thousand, making a paltry 2 percent improvement from the previous week’s (November 7-13) 50.8 per thousand.

As on November 21, Nagaland has tested a cumulative 1,08,781 samples. 

Blame it on the week’s surge in cases, the recovery rate went down to 85.8 percent from 90 percent, previously. The surge in fresh cases also affected a decimal decline in mortality rate, which became 0.47 percent from 0.48 percent.

Alarming rise in traced contacts

The percentage of positive traced contacts against the total number of cases increased to 37.4 percent during the week from 29 percent, previously. As on November 21, traced contacts made up 3,997 of the total 10,674 cases. 

The armed forces, including the Nagaland Police, case-count totaled 4,420 or 41.4 percent of the statewide total. Returnees/travelers made up 1,753 or 16.4 percent and front liners- 504 or 4.7 percent. 

Around 5 percent of the total cases detected have or had symptoms. 

Another alarming trend has been the increase in detection of cases among people attending flu clinics (for pre-op screening/travel purposes or with symptoms). The report, while noting the trend as worrisome, revealed that it has increased 10 percent or 403 out of 3,952 tests. It was 8 percent in the first week of November. 

A total of 30,213 contacts have been traced, of which 12,660 are primary contacts by surveillance teams.

Among the traced contacts, the most affected age group is 21-30 years at 26 percent (1018/3952) followed by 31-40 years at 25 percent (1006/3952). Among them, 63 percent (2480/3952) are males.

It also noted that there has been a continuous increase in cases among the 51-60 years age group in the past one week, and even in 60 plus age category. 

Positivity rate among household contacts 29 percent (1139/3952) and office goers 25 percent (999/3952) continued to be the highest.

The positivity rate among students continued to remain steady at 18% (725/3952).