The number of infected is climbing and so is the death toll. With Unlock 4.0 on and restrictions lifted on the movement of people, one may expect the number of positive cases to continue to climb and correspondingly in the number of deaths too. What is the way forward, is the question that must be dogging the Government but as of now it is more than evident that an answer has not been found yet. As stated many times in this column, the decision to ease the restrictions and move on with Unlock 4.0 should be seen in its correct perspective. It is not in any way an indication that the virus has been reined in but rather the gradual unlocking has been necessitated by the need to restart the economy of the land and help the people get back on their feet. Again at the risk of repeating another point, this is where the responsibilities of the people increase manifold. All the more reason why the directives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) must be adhered to more strictly. Maintain physical/social distancing, always wear a face mask and that too properly and wash one’s hand with soap and water regularly. Not such a tall order to follow but what one sees on the road of Imphal regularly go against this directive. This is the reason why there are daily updates on the number of people fined and pulled up by the police for violating the SOPs. Now with by elections looming in some Assembly segments, one can expect to see the guidelines being violated increasingly during the canvassing for votes. There is a reason why some political parties, particularly the Left had called for a deferment of the by elections, arguing that human lives are more important than the conduct of an election.
The death toll in Manipur as on September 19 stood at 55 and the number of infected at 8724. The number of infection and deaths may not be much as compared to the rest of the country, which is fast catching up with the USA in the number of infection, but for a small State like Manipur with about 30 lakh people, it is still a significant figure. More significant is the data from the Union Health Ministry which has revealed that the recovery rate in Manipur and five other States in the North East region is below the National average. As on September 19, the recovery rate in Manipur stood at 77.06 while the National recovery rate was 78.86 percent. The recovery rate in five other North East States too was below the National average with Meghalaya scoring a poor 53.76 percent. The figures in the other North East States too reflect a not so healthy recovery rate with Mizoram at 61.86, Tripura 64.72 pc, Nagaland 77.23 pc and Arunachal Pradesh 72.5 pc. Assam with 80.89 pc and Sikkim with 78.67 are the only two States from the North East which have recovery rate above or almost similar to the National average of 78.86 pc. The fast growing number of infection is obviously one of the main factors for the below par recovery rate, but again remember Assam with 80.89 pc recovery rate is the State with the highest number of infection rate in the North East region with more than one lakh and fifty thousand cases and this should say something significant.