Climbing cases and deaths A hard look at the reality

How well is Manipur coping with the pandemic ? This question is important and may be viewed against the climbing number of deaths and infection. Ever since Manipur threw open its doors and organised special trains and buses to bring in  stranded natives of the State from different parts of the country, the number of positive cases has been increasing with each passing day and it is here that it becomes crucial to question how well Manipur has been coping with the situation. Ideally the State Government should have worked out an idea on how to deal with the pandemic once the virus landed here and while it may too early to go in for a post mortem, it would nonetheless help a lot if one looks back and take some lessons on how to step forward. This is what is called learning from experience. From the initial stage when the infection came from the people who had returned from different parts of the country, today it is more about local spread, prompting even Chief Minister N Biren to admit that there are cases to indicate that there is community spread of the disease. This is a point which some retired doctors and health workers have been asserting for some time and now that the Chief Minister himself has admitted this, it is more than clear that not enough care was taken to ensure that the virus was confined only to people who had returned from other parts of the country. This is not at all a welcome development, for it makes everyone a suspect, whether one has stepped outside Manipur or not in the recent past. Another was the report that Manipur was running low on testing kits some days back and this was clearly reflected in the lesser number of test conducted. One hopes this situation has passed and Manipur now has enough testing kits at hand, for one sure shot way of tackling the virus is trace, test and treat. The three Ts which cannot be ignored and which are widely regarded as the gold standard for battling the virus.
An Integrated Covid Control Centre under a strong leadership is one recommendation submitted by the team from New Delhi and herein lies the important question of how well integrated are the different arms of the Government in dealing with the pandemic. Is there close co-ordination between the two principal hospitals, RIMS and JNIMS, which are at the forefront of battling the virus ? Is there a media plan to increase awareness of the public and give the needed information to the people ? Granted there is a Government official who has been named as the official spokesman to deal with the situation, but why not an elected leader who can keep the people updated ? Can the Chief Minister himself handle all the responsibilities ? How well are the SOPs adhered to during the campaigning for the by elections to four Assembly Constituencies ? These are questions but important to use as yardsticks while studying how well the Government has been able to cope with the situation. Is the Government working on any plans to set up a Covid dedicated hospital so that the two principal hospitals can also attend to people who are suffering from other ailments ? The 11 point suggestions or recommendations submitted by the team from the Centre should also wake the Government to the reality that a lot still needs to be done, particularly on how well the public is being sensitised. Still a lot of work to be done to make the public more responsive and even today it is not uncommon to see many stepping out of their homes with mask covering only some portions of their mouth and leaving the nose free. This is where the Government may go on an intensive drive to demonstrate how a face mask should be worn to keep one safe.