Nagaland extends lockdown till May 31 as COVID cases continue to rise

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Kohima, May 19 (PTI) Considering the consistent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, the Nagaland government on Wednesday decided to extend the ongoing total lockdown till May 31, officials said.

At a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, the state's High Powered Committee (HPC) on COVID-19 made the decision two days before the current week-long lockdown comes to an end.

The ongoing total lockdown, which came into effect from 6 pm on May 14, was imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, there was not much improvement in the situation.

Coronavirus cases rose from 17,531 on May 14 to 18,958 till Wednesday, an increase of 1,427 cases. Altogether 44 deaths have been reported increasing the death toll from 190 to 234 during the same period.

Officials said that after reviewing the current situation, the HPC decided to extend the state-wide total lockdown with the existing conditions till May 31.

During the lockdown period, all activities and movement of people will remain suspended except permitted ones - essential services, agriculture and construction works.

Shops dealing in essential commodities would be allowed to remain open from 6 am to 12 noon daily and only one person per family has to do the shopping, officials said.

On the functioning of educational institutions, the HPC decided that on completion of summer vacation on May 21, schools will be allowed to resume online classes and the standard operating procedure (SOP) would be brought out by the School Education Department.

The HPC also decided that a centralised depot of oxygen cylinders will be created in Chumukedima Police Complex in Dimapur district for efficient distribution of the life- saving gas, officials said.

Zonal depots will also be set up in strategic locations across the state.

In order to check the spread of the virus in rural areas, the HPC resolved to put in place a system of community surveillance through ASHA workers as well as Nagaland State Rural Livelihoods Mission (NSRLM) and other volunteers from civil society organisations.

Officials said that the vacancies of doctors and nurses under the National Health Mission caused due to the recent recruitment in the state would be filled up by engaging suitable professionals on a temporary basis.

Meanwhile, amid the surge in coronavirus cases and rise in the number of deaths, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), the apex body of Baptist churches in the state, has urged believers to take part in a special hour of prayer on May 22. PTI NBS NN NN