Growing need for more testing
Beating China on the tally
Two schools of thought have emerged even as the lockdown has been extended to May 31. One goes by the line that the lockdown has been effective in keeping down the number of infection while the other line of thought says that the more than 50 days of Nationwide lockdown has not had the desired effect. Difficult to say which line of thought is nearer to the truth, but there can be no absolute truth here. It however stands that the number of asymptomatic persons is huge, perhaps best exemplified by the fact that one week before the Nationwide lockdown was clamped on March 25, the number of infected in the country stood at 162 with three deaths. This was on March 18. Now fast forward to May 18, 2020 and the number of infected stands at 96,169 with 3029 deaths. So in a span of two months the number of infection has increased by more than 500 times surpassing China’s total of 84,038 infection though short of 4634 deaths recorded there. Given the manner in which the number of infected has been rising, India will definitely touch the one lakh mark and beyond by the end of May and this is where the call to learn to live with the virus becomes significant. This should not be taken to mean that the towel has been thrown in but to learn to live with a virus much like how mankind has been living with the virus that causes AIDS. Don’t get infected, will be the call and this is where the call to maintain physical or social distancing, maintain personal hygiene, frequent handwashing and keeping oneself physically fit becomes important, till a vaccine is found.
One question that may be raised here at this moment is whether the lockdown period has been used to increase the number of tests and its associated procedure such as contact tracing, isolating etc. Has India managed to start a scientific investigation of community trans- mission ? This question is important in the face of community transmission, with perhaps Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura leading the way in the North East to show how the infection has spread from one or two persons. There is no reason not to believe that this will not happen in other North Eastern States. The North East, once untouched by the virus has many positive cases today, with Tripura leading the way with more than 165 cases followed by Assam with more than 100, Meghalaya with 13 and one death and Manipur with 7, including two persons who have recovered. It is against this reality that the extension of Lockdown 4.0 till May 31 should be seen and understood though there will be debates on whether the restriction has helped in keeping the spread of the virus under check. The Centre has already laid down in clear cut terms what is allowed and what is not, followed by some States, particularly Karnataka. For Manipur, the State Government is yet to officially come out with the list of what will be allowed and what will be restricted, till the time this commentary is being penned down in the evening of May 18. This is where Imphal would need to step in and quickly clear the air of confusion and study how numerous notifications on has only made the people more confused and confused citizens can only make the lockdown more ineffective.