Where to ease and where to continue:
How to stay insulated
Manipur will definitely come somewhere very near the green zone, that is a place where no new COVID-19 infection has been reported for the last four weeks. Come May 3 and the National lockdown is scheduled to be lifted and this is where the State Government will be faced with a number of questions. The broad understanding is, while restrictions may be eased in areas that come under the green zone this should also mean that the green zones remain insulated from the hotspots. In other words, extra efforts will have to be taken up to ensure that people from the hotspots are not allowed to travel into and mingle with the people in the green zone. Now with the State Government having decided to transport 84 people stranded at Manipur Bhawan, Guwahati, will the western door be further opened for other similarly placed people ? Will people of Manipur presently stranded at places like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Pune etc be given the green signal to return to Manipur ? At the moment, four buses have been sent to Guwahati to bring in the stranded people, but how about people who wish to return to Manipur in their own private vehicles ? The Government may have thought over these questions but extreme care need to be taken in the face of many medical experts having gone on record to state that the month of May could be the ‘make or break‘ period in the fight against COVID-19.
Make or break and this is where the Government will have to decide where restrictions should continue as before and where the same may be eased. A point which has already been touched before, but with May 3 now just a few days away and with many experts predicting that May would be a crucial month, the Government will seriously need to study this point. The suggestion of the State unit of the Shiv Sena to convene an all political party meet ahead of May 3 is significant here. It would be in the interest of the land and the people if air travel continues to be suspended. The National Highways too should to be sealed and the same may be opened only for exceptional cases, as in the case of the buses which have gone to Guwahati to pick up stranded people of Manipur. The Government will also need to intensify the vigil at the areas bordering Myanmar. Just erecting a fence at Churachandpur side to check cross border movement will not do for it is a long border. Extra care needs to be taken all that more now that four more cases of COVID-19 have been reported from Assam, taking that State’s total number of infected people to 41. Crucial period this is and with May poised to be a critical phase, the State Government will need to walk the extra mile in deciding how the lockdown should be eased. Remember Prime Minister Modi’s stand that it has to be a graded exit from the lockdown and it should be clear that lifting the lockdown should not be taken to mean that the threat posed by the virus has been neutralised.