Coping with the present
Lockdown amid curfew
Total lockdown for 21 days, that is till April 14. Curfew imposed all over the State to discourage people from congregating. Shops and supply points opened for a few hours to let people buy their needed provisions on selected days, notably on alternate days. This means that shops may be opened for say X locality on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while the other days may be meant for Y locality. Petrol pumps running dry and people hard pressed to get fuel to run their vehicles. Inter-district buses and taxi services suspended. Taps running dry and local MLAs hard pressed to make potable water available to the people. Rice mills closed, due to the curfew call with reports coming in that Chief Minister N Biren has instructed all the MLAs to ensure that 20 kgs of rice are distributed to each family, to help them tide over the present lockdown. As noted earlier leikai heroes continue to don the role of vigilantes putting up road blocks in their respective localities hindering the free flow of vehicles, especially vehicles out on emergency. This in brief sums up the reality in Manipur today and the same must be true in other parts of the country. All the restrictions, the total lockdown and the curfew, are understandable for these are in line with the efforts taken up to break the chain of COVID-19 and with no cure in sight, breaking the chain of transmission is perhaps the best way forward. India must have learnt a lesson or two from other countries such as Italy where the virus spread at such an alarming rate from five cases and no death on February 23 to 74,386 infections and 7503 deaths on March 25. Social distance, this should be the catchword for everyone even as India grapples with rising cases all over the country.
So even as the State Government has taken up all measures possible to keep the virus at bay, barring the one case that was reported recently, a number of concerned citizens, people who know the finer points of healthcare have questioned whether the steps taken up have come a little too late. Only time will tell, but there are still questions that continue to dog the minds of all concerned citizens of the land. What is the position of ventilators available with the hospitals, including the private hospitals ? Does the State have adequate number of Personal Protection Equipment for the doctors and nurses/health care workers who have to treat anyone found positive for coronavirus ? Does the State have enough isolation wards to house those who test positive for coronavirus ? How are the places identified as quarantine centres maintained ? No one is asking for 5 star treatment at the quarantine centres, but are the inmates given food on time ? What is the quality of food given to the inmates ? Are the people adequately sensitized on the need and the merit of maintaining social distance and what exactly does social distance mean ? It is not uncommon to see people lining up with adequate spacing amongst them when they go to buy groceries from the stores, as mandated under the call to maintain social distance, but it is also extremely disturbing to see the same set of people freely mingling before they go and queue up, thereby defeating the very purpose of maintaining a minimum distance while standing in the queue! Time is running out and with some cases more than indicating that India has progressed to stage 3 of the infection, the coming days can be extremely crucial and this is where people need to open their eyes and acknowledge that half hearted attempts can be like writing blank cheque for the next few days as far as the coronavirus pandemic is concerned.