Make information come more freely : Speed up testing
It should be clear, more so to the Government. All the positive cases that Manipur has seen so far are ones that have been imported. Meaning so far Manipur has not seen or experienced a single case of community transmission and this is good fortune. Yet this is not the time to remain lax. The focus now should be on how to keep all those who return from outside the State segregated from the others, until the tests are being conducted and their status gets to the ‘cured’ or ‘negative’ stage. Ever since Manipur opened its doors to the natives of the State to return from different parts of the country, the number of infection has just zoomed. So from a situation of not a single active positive case, the State today has 50 active cases and the number will increase in the coming days. Nothing that can be done now, since the door has been flung open, but the least that is expected of the State Government is to see how the testing procedure as well as the announcements of the results can be speeded up. Thoughts also ought to be applied on how the testing of the returnees are conducted. Are the returnees identified from the areas they have come and classified as those coming from the red zones, orange zones or green zones ? Or is it a case of the returnees being tested and their results announced on the basis of first come, first serve ? There must be some merit in the post put up by a Congress MLA, questioning why returnees housed at a quarantine centre at a school in Imphal have not been tested though they returned more than ten days back. Is it a case of the two centres, one at RIMS and the other at JNIMS unable to cope with the large number of people returning or is it something else ? Whatever, the Government needs to work on this and come out with a convincing answer.
Fifty active positive cases and the number will climb as time progresses. This itself is disturbing but more disturbing is to note that it is getting more and more difficult to get minutes and details of information connected to COVID-19 in the State. The reason why a spokesperson has been appointed to keep the media in the loop should not be forgotten and herein arises the questions of why information sought is not so readily forthcoming. Keeping important points shielded from the public can have immense negative fallouts. This is one important point which the Government may look into. In Assam there is Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma keeping the people informed of the COVID-19 situation in that State. At the National level too, important information, statistics and the latest developments are routinely given by the Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal. The point here is, important information ought to be given to the media on a routine basis for keeping the people informed should be one way of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic effectively. No officer in the State Health Department or any other department should come under the impression that they are doing a favour by responding to inquiries from the media houses. This is where the Government will need to step in and issue strict instructions to all concerned. The character of a Government will be defined to a huge extent by the manner in which they respond to a crisis and this is one such time.