Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst:
Growing number of infected
Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Hope for the best in the face of the global pandemic and be prepared for the worst, for Manipur has to be wary of what is happening in the rest of the country and the world. A global pandemic it is and in an ever increasing global village, Manipur cannot remain insulated from what is happening around the world and around India. The figure itself should paint a frightening picture. On May 9, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country was 59,662 and fast forward to May 12 and the number has crossed the 70,000 mark while the number of deaths has been put at 2,293. On the global COVID-19 map, India has been ranked high though below China, the country where the virus originated from and this is not at all a comfortable thought. This is about India, but as noted earlier here, Manipur cannot expect to remain insulated for long for the simple reason that movement of people from different parts of the country to the State has started and will continue in the coming days. Already a number of people from Guwahati have arrived in different buses and it is disturbing to note that Guwahati has been tagged as a crucial city by dint of it being the gateway to and from the North East region. Not surprising that many have pointed to the capital city of Assam as one of the most important transit points for the virus to spread to the other North Eastern States, via the people who have to get into this city while coming to Manipur and other North East States. As things stand, more than 40 thousand people have reportedly signed up for returning to Manipur, and even if ten thousand withdraw for whatever reason, it remains that the State will still have to deal with 30 thousand returnees. Is Manipur ready to receive them all ? This is a question which Chief Minister N Biren and his men must have dealt with, but the sheer number of those lined up to return will not exactly make anyone comfortable with the thought.
It is not for nothing why Chief Minister N Biren felt the need to highlight the challenges the State is facing while managing the returnees. One obviously is the quarantine centres, which have been set up across the districts. While the quarantine centres are there to lodge the returnees, complaints have poured in over many perceived lapses. One such case is the complaint raised over the condition of the toilet at a school in Imphal which is being used as a quarantine centre. Another is a centre at Ukhrul district where complaints have again poured in. These complaints are no doubt important and should be taken note of but there is still the bigger question of the number of samples the two units at RIMS and JNIMS can effectively handle. The pressure on these two testing centres will only increase with the arrival of returnees. No one can work effectively under immense pressure and strain and given the fact that the two centres can only test 370 samples together (RIMS-120 samples, JNIMS-250 samples) per day, the pressure can only be imagined when trains start arriving with the returnees. As things stand, 1140 passengers from Chennai are scheduled to arrive at Jiribam on May 13 but there is no way the testing capacities of the two centres would increase correspondingly and this at a time when the world is calling for test and more test.