How well prepared is Manipur? : Shutting down Ima Keithel

Maintain social distance. Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitisers. Lockdown. Call for Janata Curfew by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 22 urging the public to stay indoors from 7 am till 9 pm. Capital of coronavirus shifts from Wuhan in China to Italy, where the death score has exceeded that in China. It is in line with this reality coupled with the global concern over the outbreak of COVID-19 that the State Government has gone ahead and taken the unprecedented step of announcing a lockdown of the three Ima Keithels and Temporary Market at Imphal from March 21 to March 25. Unprecedented but when the world is faced with an unprecedented crisis posed by a virus this is perfectly in line with the need of the time. The virus is yet to land in Manipur, this is the official line, but how many people have been checked ? Are only those who have been abroad checked and quarantined and not the ‘random checking’ that incoming State natives are subjected to at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport at Imphal and along the National Highways ? A few days back, the State Government announced that the Inner Line Permit System would no longer be issued to non-locals who want to enter Manipur, but how strictly has this been enforced ? What are the precautionary measures that have been taken up at BT Airport, especially for those who go there to pick up their wards coming back from outside the State ? How well equipped are the different quarantine centres notified by the Government ?
These are all questions at the moment but questions of concern that ought to be raised for the world is reeling under a pandemic not witnessed since the Spanish Flu of 1920. And with the world today equated to a global village, connectivity is the by word and the chances of the virus spreading from one continent to the other is all that much higher. Can Manipur escape from the understanding of a global village ? The answer should be clear to all and this is where one wonders whether the hospitals, health workers and health professionals have the means to tackle the situation if and when the virus lands here ? A look at the reality should answer these questions to a certain extent. Does Manipur have the adequate number of beds, isolation wards, ventilators etc to deal with the crisis that has crippled many other advanced countries such as Italy, Spain and earlier China and South Korea ? How effectively are the visitors coming to Manipur being screened ? This question is important for there is a case of a young man from Bengaluru who visited Moreh on March 19 after spending two days at Imphal and who exhibited signs of fever at the border town. After he was reported to the police, he mysteriously disappeared but the young man was traced and fortunately his fever was recorded as normal when checked on March 20. What stands out glaringly here is that the correspondent of The Sangai Express could not get any definite report from the authority concerned on when he actually entered Manipur. It is this type of loose ends that needs to be tied up, else the preventive measures taken up will fall flat on its face.