Recording death tally at four
Dealing with the bodies
In just 24 hours the death tally has climbed from one to four and death due to COVID-19 is something which the Government should have ideally anticipated. The question is, has the Government managed to work out the finer details of what to be done if and when death from COVID-19 strikes the State again ? The first death case should be an eye opener. The patient in question here passed away in the wee hours of July 29 but the body could not be disposed within 24 hours as certain protocols have to be observed. The patient passed away at RIMS, which is at Imphal West and the crematorium of the Imphal Municipal Council where the body was to be disposed lies at Imphal East. The order for disposing the body said that it should be cremated at the crematorium under the Government and the said crematorium happens to be located at Imphal East. This is where the Imphal East and Imphal West divide, or rather the division of district administration arose. If the order had just said dispose it at the nearest and convenient crematorium, the East and West divide could have probably been stepped aside. On the other hand such a situation would not have arisen if there were no apprehensions of opposition from any quarters if the body was to be disposed at the locality’s cremation ground, which every leikai in Manipur has. A situation arising out of a cocktail of the Government not having worked out the finer details and a people dogged by stigma and unsubstantiated fear and apprehension. Certainly not the way the mortal remains of anyone should be allowed to remain in state, just because there is no suitable site to cremate it. Food for thought.
All indications that the Government should have been prepared for the worst. As stated earlier, time to look beyond just imposing lockdowns and the accompanying penalties on violators. A dedicated hospital to exclusively treat COVID-19 positive people is in line now that the State has more than 2000 positive cases and it will keep on increasing. Treating is not the end of the task in facing the pandemic realistically. The Meghalaya example should have been enough lesson to the State Government. One can still remember how the body of the first COVID-19 victim there had to be moved from one cemetery to the other as the local people did not want the body to be buried in their cemetery fearing more infection. This is where ICMR and the health agencies will need to step in and educate the public on the apprehension that a lifeless body can transmit the virus. This is also a step which the State Health Department in consultation with others can take up and see how they can educate the mass. The situation should be clear to all now. Manipur has crossed the stage of the virus being detected only from those returning from outside the State for local transmission is a reality now. Manipur has also crossed the stage of being “people found positive and getting treated” but has come face to face with COVID-19 related death cases. In such a situation it is only expected that the Government should have worked out the details of how to dispose bodies infected by the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes educating the people on the apprehension that a dead body can still transmit the virus.