Ahead of high level meeting
Points to ponder
The reality somewhat sums it up. Galloping number of positive cases, on an average running into more than 300 cases per day, Chief Minister N Biren himself declaring that there are signs of community transmission in the State, rising number of deaths and a high level meeting convened by the Chief Minister on October 22 amid talks that Manipur may yet see another round of lockdown. Another spell of lockdown, but all speculations should be seen behind the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi some time back that there wouldn’t be another lockdown. Moreover the Chief Minister himself has made it clear that any lockdown decision will have to be taken after due consultation with the Union Home Ministry and the Union Health Ministry. It is against this reality that the high level meeting will be convened on October 22, and here is hoping that the high level meeting takes cognizance of the fact that there is no one singularly in charge of the Health portfolio. A lesson may be drawn from neighbouring Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and even Nagaland where the Health Ministers have been routinely updating the media and telling the side of the Government to the people. Here in Manipur, save for the Additional Director of the Health Department, who has also doubled up as the Spokesman of COVID-19 Control Room, no one in charge of the Health portfolio has been updating the people on the actual state of the situation. This is what is flummoxing. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and it has already started taking a heavy toll on the people here and ever since the country went under lockdown at the latter part of March not a word was heard from the then Health Minister.
Other than the Chief Minister, who now holds the Health portfolio, no one from the Council of Ministers has addressed the pandemic and the measures taken up. The high level meeting would be the right time and the right occasion to address this point. It is not for nothing why Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan too addresses the media now and then to highlight the situation to the people of the country. Manipur needs to do more than the statement issued by the Additional Health Director in the evening every day to show that the Government is indeed serious about tackling the virus. So what is it that can be expected from the Government ? Can one expect an out of the box approach to the situation, which is far from pleasant or will it be back to square one, albeit under a term different from lockdown ? With no vaccine in sight at the moment and given the rate at which the virus spreads from one person to the other, it would be difficult to come out with a different approach, but something needs to be done and this is where one expects the Government to come out with something different. Leikaiwise containment has already started with Thangmeiband being the first, but it is still not clear how such an approach will help in the long run. It is also more than clear that the two principal hospitals, RIMS and JNIMS are hard pressed with as many as 14 doctors and 2 OT technicians of JNIMS testing positive on October 20 evening, to meet the challenge posed by the virus. Beds for patients have also reportedly started running out at these two hospitals. What more needs to be done is the question that needs to be tackled now.