The Jiribam and Thoubal experience : Publicity drive needed
Lockdown, restricting movement of people, closing markets, closing restaurants and hotels, schools and colleges yet to open, online examinations etc. All measures to stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading further but yet the feeling that the Government can do more than this is a point worth pondering. Other than the measures taken up so far here, what other steps should the State Government take to make the people more aware of the virus and the spread across the country and the world. The relevancy of this question should become more clear given the fact that Manipur is today at stage II of the transmission, which is local transmission. The Jiribam and more recently the Thoubal experience should make this point clear. This means that every new patient, for example the Pradhan, the Member and VDF personnel who tested positive for coronavirus on July 15 came into contact with a person or persons who had recently returned to Manipur from other parts of the country. As the Health Department said, the Pradhan was involved in looking after a quarantine centre opened at the locality from where he hails, Moijing Awang Leikai in Thoubal. Moreover it is also believed that the Pradhan came into contact with a police personnel who has since tested positive for COVID-19. The Gram Panchayat Member and the VDF personnel were also both involved in looking after a quarantine centre. Contact tracing is on and these examples should fit the description or understanding of local transmission, just like the case at Jiribam where the virus spread to many others from a single infected police personnel.
Misinformation can be dangerous, especially at this time when the infection rate is climbing fast and the virus is known to be highly contagious. As the Thoubal and Jiribam news spread, many were given to believe that there is community transmission in the State, which is off target, if one sticks to the official line adopted by the Government of Manipur and on a larger context, the Government of India. This is where it becomes necessary to let the people know what is the official understanding of community transmission, local transmission, or the first stage-the outbreak which may be understood as the positive cases coming from outside Manipur. At the same time Manipur is also at that stage when the authorities know each and every COVID-19 patient, that is they all came from outside the State. But now with local transmission, the next stage would be community transmission, or the third stage. This is where it becomes important for all to make sure that it does not proceed to the third stage and perhaps this is where it becomes imperative for the Health Department and the State Government to clearly explain the stages of transmission. The same may be given widespread publicity via the local TV Channels and the newspapers, both vernacular and English dailies. Such a step can surely go a long way in curbing the leikai experts from proclaiming so and so stage has been reached for this can trigger alarm which can only complicate the matter at hand.