The Nagaland government has come under criticism after a second case came to light in which a returnee, who later tested positive for COVID-19, was sent to her home district along with others in a bus.
Leader of the Opposition and former chief minister T R Zeliang slammed the government for the incident saying a mistake that endangers lives is inexcusable and a crime.
The joint action committee (JAC) on COVID-19 of Peren district, where the woman returnee was sent, said it was a gross violation of the standard operating procedure (SOP) and demanded disciplinary action against the officers responsible for it.
The JAC consists mainly of members of civil society organizations.
"A positive patient reaching Jalukie despite JAC on COVID-19 Peren district raising concern to appropriate authority regarding sending positive cases is a total disregard to the decision of the public," Zeliang, the former chief minister of Nagaland, tweeted on Friday.
A woman who returned from Chennai was sent home to Jalukie in Peren district from Dimapur, the states commercial hub, in the same bus along with 16 others on Thursday. While these 16 people tested negative before they start their journey, the woman's result was awaited and it was found to be positive later.
Nagaland health secretary Kesonyu Yhome regretted the "unintentional error" saying it was caused due to similarity in her name with another returnee.
"Is one mistake not enough for the Govt of Nagaland to learn and take corrective measures? First it was Tuensang and now Peren District, has it become a norm for the present dispensation, where there is absolutely no regard for human lives?" Zeliang, a Naga Peoples' Front (NPF) leader, said in the tweet.
In a similar incident late last month, a man was released from a quarantine centre in Kohima before his test results arrived. He was transported to Tuensang district along with 150 others. The results later showed him to be positive for the disease.
"A mistake that endangers lives is inexcusable and a crime. Apart from various other instances, these two is proof enough of how ill prepared the State is to combat this pandemic. Government's honesty and sincerity is the need of the hour," Zeliang said.
According to the JAC, the gross violation of SOP by Dimapur officials has put the lives of citizens of Peren district in general at risk and her co-passengers in the bus.
The JAC also wrote to the chief minister-cum-chairman of the high powered committee for COVID-19 in the state demanding action against the erring officials.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Nagaland reached 107 on Saturday after 13 Chennai returnees tested positive for the disease.