Not the time to let the guards down Ahead of the third wave

This is not the time to let the guards down. Sure the number of daily new infections has gone down appreciably and so too has the number of daily deaths. But it would be foolhardy to think that the virus has been reined in and everything can go back to the pre-Covid days. The call for the new normal still rings relevant and this is all that more so given the warnings/cautions by experts that the world should brace itself for a third wave. No one knows when the third wave will come or how devastating it would be, but no chances can be taken and this is best exemplified by how unaware the people were caught when the second wave came rolling exacting a heavy toll on everyone. It is along this line that the State Government has gone all the way out to ensure that hospitals and health centres are not caught on the wrong foot and there are provisions for stocking up adequate life giving oxygen. Tough to say how many have been able to look beyond the inauguration of Pressure Swing Oxygen Plant at different district hospitals. That these plants should be inaugurated even as the pandemic is still on should more than convey the message that the Government is readying itself for the highly likely third wave and medical needs of the people. This gesture should be reciprocated by the people and the best would be for all to continue to stick to the commandments laid down by the World Health Organisation and enforced by different State Governments across the country. Always wear a face mask while stepping out, with the addendum that the mask should be worn even inside one’s own house in the face of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus, wash one’s hands frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitiser in case one is outside, maintain social distancing and stay away from large crowd. And take the vaccine shot when one’s turn comes. Not such a tough call to follow if one applies one’s mind to the need of the hour. Close  to two years and ideally there should be nothing new in the call for the new normal and it should now ideally be the normal normal.
So even as the Government is busy equipping the district hospitals with the much needed plants to supply oxygen, this is also the time for the State Health Department to seriously study what more may be done to give more teeth to its contact tracing exercise, how promptly it has been able to cordon off areas/households from where any family member may have tested positive for the virus, how effective has its follow up actions be. These suggestions should be taken with the merit they deserve for it is now more than right that lessons should have been learnt from the devastating second wave of the pandemic that took such a deadly toll on the people. One only hopes that the lull in the infection graph has been taken as the ideal time to study any loopholes there might have been so that Manipur is better prepared for the next wave, which many experts have predicted will come. It is good that the IDSP has now started giving the districtwise daily positivity rate and this is a point which The Sangai Express had raised on many occasions before September. As stated many times in this column, one needs to go beyond the absolute number and see the positivity rate and here is the time to seriously study the huge swing in the daily positivity rate in some of the hill districts.