Looking beyond another spell of lockdown
Points for new SOP
Looking beyond lockdowns. This is clear from the decision of the high level meeting convened at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on October 22 and this should not come as a surprise for lockdown is something which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on more than one occasion assured that the country will not experience again. The stand of the Prime Minister can be understood in the pressing need to revive the economy which has been hit for a big six and the attention of all concerned citizens will be turned on how the State Government works out the new SOP. No one in The Sangai Express is an expert on how to fight a pandemic of this scale but from the little that one has seen and experienced, it would perhaps help for the State Government to daily brief the media on the steps that are being taken up to face the situation. No doubt the Additional Director of the Health Department is keeping the media updated on the daily number of infections and deaths, but it would help if the State Government can have someone from the Council of Ministers to keep the media in the loop with regular media briefings and updates. Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam is doing it regularly and so are the Health Ministers in neighbouring Nagaland and Mizoram. As stated earlier in this column, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan too has been in touch with the media to let the whole country know the COVID-19 status very, very regularly. It will also help if the State Government can study the approach being taken up in other States to tackle the epidemic. Why not learn lessons from some other States, which have gone through the experience that Manipur is presently undergoing ? Has the State Government received any inputs following the suggestions and inputs it has invited from the people ? Most importantly the Government would need to ask itself whether the SOPs are being followed in the campaigning for the by elections scheduled for November 7.
It was with a reason why the English edition of The Sangai Express ran the story under the heading, ‘SOPs ? Shut up this is by election time’ and accompanied it with a picture of people sitting cheek by jowl during an election campaign. A clear demonstration that these blatant violations of the safety norms are being carried out under the very nose of the Government. Or if this is not the case, then have election meetings been dispersed for not adhering to the standard safety protocols ? If yes then why aren’t they being publicised ? This question is raised in the backdrop of the fact that every day the newspaper houses receive statements from the police that so and so number of people have been rounded up for violating the prescribed norms to be followed, such as not wearing a face mask. This is not the way to go about enforcing the guidelines issued by WHO and the ICMR in the face of the pandemic. The new proposed SOP should also address this, if the Government is sincere about keeping a check on the increasing number of positive cases and its spread. The statistics should tell its own story. The daily break up of infected cases issued by the State Health Department clearly points out that local transmission now accounts for majority of the positive cases and if this is not a wake up call, then one wonders what would qualify as a wake up call. The people too should wake up to the fact that over 120 people have died and over 16 thousand people have been infected. In as much as the different political parties are responsible for the jamboree ahead of the by elections, it also stands that such eye sores would not be witnessed if only the people have enough sense to say no to any arrangements that will make them sit cheek by jowl during an election meeting, exposing them and society to the virus.