Looking at the days ahead:
After May 3 what ?
The question uppermost in the minds of everyone is, after May 3 what ? No doubt the Nationwide lockdown which came into force from March 25 and which has been extended to May 3, is the best way to flatten the curve but even during this period of lockdown, the number of positive cases continue to climb. On March 25, when the Nationwide lockdown came into effect, the total number of infected persons in India stood at a little over 500 including the young girl from Manipur. Even as the lockdown has been extended to May 3, the total number of infected persons as on April 16, 2020, was nearly 13,000 in the evening with everything indicating that the number would increase. The number of deaths as on April 16 was 432 including the one death at Shillong and everything indicates that the number of human casualty would rise with each passing hour. With no vaccine in sight, lockdown and cutting down human to human contact, under the physical distancing call, is the only way to keep the virus at bay and the number of infections and even deaths could have been higher if the lockdown call was not heeded seriously. Examples here are galore with Italy, Spain, the United States and France standing as testimonies. The question at this moment however is, what next after May 3 ? No doubt social or physical distancing will continue to be the clarion call, but the Government will surely need to come out with another approach to tackle the challenge at hand.
What plans has the State Government worked out to follow after May 3 ? This question is important for this is the reality that the people of Manipur will have to face 14 days later. To be sure the call to maintain social or physical distancing, wash hands regularly, stay healthy etc will continue but the more important query is what other steps does the State Government intend to take up ? This is where the Government will need to see if new guidelines are issued by WHO for Nations to follow after days of lockdown. Moreover it is also important for the Government to ensure that the current ban on inter-State travel continues. The two positive cases that Manipur has recorded so far should be an eye opener. How about the students and others who have been stranded in different parts of the country ? If there are plans arranged for their return, what steps are being taken up to study them for at least the next 14 days or so ? Will the present quarantine centres be able to house them all ? The living style in Manipur is such that home quarantine cannot be a viable answer at all for the fact stands that not all sons have separate rooms. In most of the cases, brothers share the same room while sisters also do the same. Separate toilets for those on home quarantine is again something which may be seen only in films. This is the reality and it is this reality which the Government and everyone concerned cannot afford to overlook. And in case of gradual lifting of the lockdown in certain sectors, the Government may rope in the service of civil society organisations, including student bodies to ensure that physical distancing is strictly complied with.