Highest spike on single day with 16 : Increasing cases of COVID-19

It is raining COVID-19 left, right, centre and what was once a drizzle, with a long dry spell in between, has today become more than a drizzle though it does not exactly qualify for a downpour. On May 20, Manipur recorded its highest spike on a single day with 16 persons testing positive for the virus, which has literally paralysed the entire country for more than 50 days on the trot now. The number of active cases of COVID-19 now stands at 23 and the latest addition of 16 persons has come just 24 hours after a mother and her daughter tested positive on May 19. A brief look at the rate of infection is significant. The first case was detected on March 24 and the second case came out on April 2. Then after a dry spell of over a month, 23 fresh cases were added, all in the month of May. The first two patients have recovered and both have been discharged from hospital and both have undergone the necessary home quarantine period but the COVID-19 story does not end there for today Manipur has 23 active cases of COVID-19. A look at the trend suggests that the number of positive cases will increase in the coming days and  this can be directly linked to the number of people returning from other parts of the country. Till date all the positive cases have come from people who had just returned to the State and perhaps this is the only bright spot that can be sighted in the darkness of pall and gloom emitted by the virus. One says bright spot, because it is a clear indication that there is as yet no community transmission but if care is not taken care of, there is no guarantee that this will continue. And one can only imagine the scenario if community transmission becomes a reality in Manipur.
What is the way forward ? It is obvious that the doors will have to continue to be kept open for the returnees but this cannot and should not be the end of the job for the Government. Keep the door open, let them return, segregate the returnees according to the zones they have returned and keep them separately. Augmenting the testing capacity of the two centres set up at RIMS and JNIMS to 1000 to 1500 per day is welcome but there still must be room to further increase the number of units that may be tested on a day. This is where the Government may step in, consult experts, the Centre and others and see how the testing capacity may be increased. Apart from the institutional quarantine, the testing that the returnees are subjected to and the other measures that have been taken up, it is also extremely important for the Government to ensure that all health workers, those manning the quarantine centres, delivering food and other necessities there are fully protected. This is where adequate number of PPEs is required. The lockdown coupled with curfew at Imphal and district headquarters is in line with the need to check unwarranted movement and socialisation of people but adequate steps should be taken to ensure that the bare basic necessities reach the people. Let neighbourhood shops open on alternate days, rope in the service of local clubs to ensure that physical distancing is maintained while buying things at the neighbourhood stores and this is where the active participation of all the local MLAs becomes important. Battling COVID-19 should not be taken to mean that it is only the job of the Government but should involve all the elected people’s representatives.