Heed the lockdown call Playing with fire

Social distancing or physical distancing or whatever one calls it but it stands that the essence of the call behind the lockdown can only be ignored at one’s own peril.  Day 6 of the lockdown call and how many are sincerely adhering to the call of the Government to stay away from crowds, to maintain social distancing and to stay at home to remain safe and sound in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is a question worth raising and this poser has been raised in the backdrop of the fact that the virus is highly contagious and there is as yet no medication to treat the sickness triggered by the coronavirus. So stay home and maintain personal hygiene is the call of the Government and there should nothing be too difficult to follow such a simple advisory as this. After a young girl, coming back from the United Kingdom tested positive for the virus on March 24, the State Government went ahead and imposed curfew all over Manipur in a bid to discourage people from coming out and socialising and the lockdown call followed suit just a day later. However a look at the reality should tell the story of how the people are wont to violate such a simple and direct call and what one sees on the roads of Imphal defeats the very purpose of issuing the lockdown call, as well as the curfew. Some people just refuse to learn and the people here fit this description to the T. Examples are galore from which the people can pick up a lesson or two. Italy which today has over 100 thousand positive cases of COVID-19 had only 5 positive cases on February 23. So in a little over one month, the number of infected persons multiplied manifold topping it off with over 11 thousand deaths. And to think that Lombardy, the epicentre of the outbreak in Italy has one of the best health care systems in the world should tell where Manipur exactly stands in the face of the threat posed by the virus.
USA too has been hit hard. So from as few as 15 cases on February 20, the figure of positive case today stands at 1 lakh 64 thousand with the death toll standing at 3173. In a span of just a little over a month, the number has multiplied manifold and it is these figures the people of Manipur cannot afford to overlook. According to the John Hopkins University and Centre for Disease, Economics Policy USA, India may well have 12.5 to 24 crore positive cases in the coming days shortly. This is sure to have a direct impact on Manipur, for then India would have progressed to level C where community transmission would be rampant. In such a scenario, it would be foolish to even entertain the idea that Manipur would not be affected. How well equipped is the State to deal with any large scale outbreak of the disease. Given the likely scenario, it is important not to forget that the two major hospitals in the State, RIMS and JNIMS together do not have even 2000 beds to house patients and even here, there will be others needing treatment and not all the beds can be expected to be kept reserved for COVID-19 patients. How about ventilators, one of the indispensable components to treat patients down with the virus ? It is unlikely that RIMS and JNIMS together will have even 70 ventilators, given that RIMS has just 29 or so ventilators at the moment. Add some which are there at the private hospitals and the most that may be counted may be 150 ventilators. Now that the virus is known to be highly contagious, can the State health apparatus be expected to meet the need if the number of patients reach a conservative estimate of even 1000 ?  In the face of such a reality, the best option before the people would be to remain alert and social or physical distancing is the best option available right now. Respect the lockdown call, remain indoors should be the call of everyone.