Community transmission ?
How will Imphal respond ?
Not yet clear how the State Government would respond, but it is significant and worrying at the same time that the State Technical Expert Committee on COVID-19 has deemed it fit to propose to the Government that an announcement be made that there is community transmission in Manipur now. Again it is not clear whether a State Government has it in them to declare community transmission, without first referring the same to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Centre. The statistics may say something significant here, such as the case of 5 or 6 cases where it is not yet very clear how and from where they got infected. And significant to note too that over 900 persons out of the total of 3941 cases have no known travel history. Local transmission is here and so is cluster transmission and the next step would obviously be community transmission, which is what the State Technical Expert Committee on COVID-19 believes is happening right now. A frightening proposition it is, but then again as Professor K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation and former head of the cardiology at AIIMS put it in a recent interview, it could be more a matter of definition and language, which may not really need a debate. Whether the State Government takes the proposal of the State Technical Expert Committee on COVID-19 and declare community transmission in Manipur or not, the fact stands that the virus has infected nearly 4000 people, and over 900 of them have no travel history. This is the reality and the situation seems to be peaking in Manipur at the moment.
The lockdown cannot go on indefinitely and it has to be lifted one day or the other and this is where it becomes important to ask the State Government what steps it has worked out to adapt to the new normal. New normal, this is what is important for everyone to acknowledge and come to the point that no one can hope to go back to the pre-Covid days for some more time. This is where the Government would need to look beyond lockdowns and the restrictions on the activities of the people. Much will depend on how successful the Government is in bringing the line of thoughts prevalent among the doctors and the generalists who sit in the corridors of power. Much will also depend on how successfully the Government is able to listen and understand the sufferings of the people, the people who till the soil, people who run small businesses in leikais and leiraks, the people who ferry school children in their school vans and the private school teachers. The task ahead is gargantuan and much will depend on how successful the Government is in learning from other States and even countries which are seen to have credibly combated the virus. Now with the State Technical Expert Committee on COVID-19 agreeing that there is indeed communal transmission in Manipur, how the Government respond to this reality will perhaps go some way in charting out fresh policies.