Increasing number of cases and deaths Better mask up !

The situation is worrying. The number of positive cases is increasing with each passing day and so is the number of deaths. Not surprising for as repeatedly pointed out in this column, the virus that causes Coronavirus knows no geography. So if the second wave has taken a heavy toll in other parts of the country, it is sure to land here one day or the other and this is what is happening here at Manipur today. The new variant of the virus and this is where the Government would do well to come out with a new set of SOPs, for the earlier dos and don’ts of wearing a face mask in public places, maintain physical distancing of at least two metres, wash one’s hand thoroughly with soap and water or with a hand sanitiser and avoid large crowd etc may just not be enough to deal with the new variant. For days the police have been issuing statements on the number of SOPs violators being pulled up and fined, with the State Government going ahead and increasing the fine to be imposed on those who flout the Covid appropriate behaviour and this should leave no one in doubt of the callousness of the people. In line with the demand of the time and in view of the second wave of the virus, the State Government has also closed the three Ima Keithels and mandated that shops at Paona Keithel and Thangal Keithel should open rotation wise. All these are fine, but it would also do good for the Government, both at Delhi and Imphal to acknowledge that the spread of the virus has been helped in no small measures by the elections held in some States recently and the Kumbh Mela, which have all been dubbed as super spreaders. No wonder it took the High Court of Madras to rap the knuckles of the Election Commission of India for failing to put a check on the manner in which different political parties went about campaigning for votes during the just concluded Assembly elections.
Significant to note that earlier the Election Commission of India in its guidelines had stipulated that a gathering of 500 people is a safe number, with The Quint in its commentary, and quoting one of its correspondents, pointing out that the “EC refused to implement the Covid norms or shorten the elections, and basically,  just do its job.” Hard hitting comment and this should say that something indeed went horribly wrong when there was a lull after the first wave and before the second wave took off with devastating effect. Such is the condition presently that oxygen, ICU beds, life saving drugs have become the most used terms/words/or phrases and the world is watching with horror the heart rending stories of how patients have been ‘allowed’ to die because the oxygen supply got cut off and before the patient could be rushed to hospital that have come from India ! Policy paralysis, this is how the Quint dubbed the response of the Government to the horror stories that are unfolding and it is these stories which should keep the State Government and the people on its toes even as new cases begin to soar here. Double mask to prevent infection, this is the advice from experts and to think that many here continue to be pulled up for moving around without a mask and clearly, many here do not seem to care. What is more, some refuse to wear the mask the right way, with many more keeping the mask halfway down the chin !