Climbing death toll and infection
To open or not conundrum
The death toll is climbing and at the last count as on October 8, 2020, the total number of people who have died due to COVID-19 in Manipur was 83. Corresponding to the death tally of 83 is the number of infected which stood at 12,679. The active cases again on the same date, October 8, 2020 was 2877 while the recovery rate was put at 76.65 percent. So from a figure of one positive case on March 24, 2020, the figure of infected has zoomed to 12,679. In just six months the number of infected has ballooned from one to over 12 thousand and clearly here is a case of a virus spreading fast and wide and there seems to be no answer on how to stop the spread. Obvious that Manipur like any other part of the world, cannot go on indefinitely with lockdowns and the phase of Unlock 2 which Manipur is witnessing right now should be seen against this reality. As things stand today, the economy has already been hit hard across the State and even though no minute academic study on the impact of the pandemic on the economy of the State has seen the light of day till now, a cursory look at the reality all around should tell its own story. Many small time leikai shops, which previously catered to the daily needs of the people, such as a packet of candle, a packet of salt, a kilogramme of sugar, a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, a kilogramme of onion and potato, dal etc must have shut down, unable to withstand the days of lockdown or limited hours of opening. Same must be the case with the numerous leikai tea stalls, where one could have one’s evening tea with a plate of bora. This is about the small time trade but look beyond this and try to visualise the condition of the many who earned their living ferrying school kids to the school and back in their school vans. Schools have been closed for over 6 months and while the focus has been on whether students must pay fees for the period of the lockdowns or not, no one seems to have acknowledged the plight of all those who made a living plying school children and back home to schools each day.
Come October 15 and hopefully the State Government will take a stand on whether schools should open or remain shut. One expects the State Government to toe the all India line and make attendance in schools purely voluntary and this is perhaps here that feedbacks from the schools, the parents associations and the students themselves may be sought. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a joke but then again the future of the young students is also not something to be taken lightly and education, as understood in going to school, is something which cannot be overlooked. Online class is one method that has been used during the pandemic and is still being used, but how about students who come from the interior parts of the State where network availability is a big issue ? Coming back to the plight of the school van drivers, perhaps this is the right time for the Government to work out a model setting a limit to the number of students a school van can carry. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly the opportune moment to start the process and such a model can be worked on later after the pandemic with a little modification according to the situation. Jam packed school vans are not only an eye sore but also exposes the young tots to many dangers and one here is talking not only about the coronavirus. Here again the co-operation of all the schools, particularly the numerous private schools should be sought and their suggestions should be taken into account.