17 in Assam, two in Manipur
Tip of the iceberg ?
Seventeen in Assam, two in Manipur, one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram and the North East region too has joined the world map of coronavirus. Along with this the total cases of COVID-19 in India has risen to 1963 with 55 deaths as on April 1 and things do not look good at all. Contrary to the call for test, test and more tests from a number of medical professionals, the test rate continues to be abysmally low and it is only those who are known to have come into contact with positive cases who are being quarantined. If the South Korea or Japan model is followed in India or Manipur, the number of positive cases may see a sudden spurt and Manipur may see more than two positive cases and this is not a comfortable thought at all. In other words the case of only two positive cases could be due to the abysmally low rate of testing and there could be many who are asymptomatic but who are nonetheless carrying the virus and can infect others who come into contact with them. This is where the honesty and sincerity of the people are called for. In Manipur, so far there is no story or report of anyone deliberately skipping the observation or test procedure most starkly demonstrated by some individuals who attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi in mid-March. Fortunately this was not the case in Manipur and out the 10 people whose samples have been tested, one has returned a positive result taking the total number to two.
No doubt the religious congregation at Nizamuddin went a long way in spiking the number of positive cases in the country and in the case of Manipur, it is this religious do which has contributed fifty percent of the positive cases. In Assam it is a story of all the positive people having attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin. With the emergence of a new hotspot for the highly contagious disease and linking it with a religious function, it is not really surprising to see so many trying to give it a religious twist, conveniently overlooking the fact that COVID-19, like all other diseases cannot be identified with one religious belief. That this should happen in a country like India is againnot surprising for remember before the Nizamuddin story came out in all its ugly manifestations, the people in India did tread dangerously. In the first place India did not seem to take COVID-19 seriously enough with the Union Ministry of Health issuing a circular on March 13 that coronavirus is not a health emergency. It was on this same date that over 3000 people gathered for the religious congregation at Nizamuddin. Again thousands gathered at Tirupati for a religious do and it was only on March 19 that the place was closed under the heat of COVID-19. Remember too that during the 14 hours Janata Curfew on March 22, hundreds gathered in different parts of the country to take out rallies clanging utensils and singing songs defeating the very purpose of the Janata Curfew ! And in Manipur it is not an uncommon sight to see many youngsters in groups in different leikais to beat the boredom of the lockdown call and in the process defeat the very call of social or physical distancing. The reality is, the two positive cases in Manipur may only be the tip of proverbial iceberg and this fact can be ignored at the peril of the people themselves.