More devastating than the first wave Heart rending tales

The second wave has been more devastating than the first. A lesson to be learnt from the Spanish Flu of 1918 to 1920, for back then, more than a hundred years back, the second wave was more lethal. Manipur has been no exception. In a span of less than a month, that is from April 27 to May 19 this year, the death toll has been a staggering 250 and there is every indication that the number will keep on increasing. From March 2020, when the first case was detected on the soil of Manipur to November 28, 2020, the death toll stood at 257 but the second wave has ensured that Manipur has come agonisingly close to this number in just a span of 22 days. Deaths in three weeks nearly equalling the number of deaths recorded in about 9 months in the year just gone by and clearly Manipur has a challenge at hand. Was Manipur ready for the second wave ? This is a question which the policy framers of the land should answer, but a look at how the State has been running from pillar to post to make medical oxygen available to the people who need it should tell its own story. That some significant individuals have stepped in to ship in oxygen concentrators and medical oxygen should also say something significant. That the Government has deemed it better that individuals shipping in medical oxygen on their accord should now do it in tandem with the Government is a different matter, but it is significant to note that some individuals have stepped in to procure the much needed life giving oxygen through crowd funding and some through their own efforts. Just how fast the virus has spread during the second wave can also be known from the climbing number of positive cases recorded each day. Manipur has already hit a high of 730 cases on a single day and if the trend continues it may well reach the four figure mark adding more to the pressure on the Government and fragile health infrastructure. All indications that a lot still need to be done on the health care front.
Heart rending stories are doing the round on the social media, with some commenting on how the father fell victim to the virus only to be followed by the mother some days later. Father dead and son struggling for life in the ICU of a hospital is again a story heard from many localities. Statistics the dead are, but these stories will continue to haunt Manipur for years to come and the heart wrenching stories that have come from different localities have come from the 635 death toll recorded so far in Manipur. There could be more but which have not been accounted for, with hospitals finding it more convenient to overlook the post complications from COVID-19 and subscribing the death to some other medical complications. Coronavirus has certainly taken a heavy toll and while the concern of many was about the loss of livelihoods of small time traders and those who depended on the leikai tea stalls and grocery stalls as well as vegetable vendors at the Ima Keithels in the first wave of the pandemic, the focus now is more on the number of deaths and on the rising positive cases.   If the past is any lesson, then this is also the time for the Government at Imphal to start looking at ways on how to deal with the third wave, which many experts have predicted. The Government of Delhi has already taken the first step towards this in deciding to form a task force to protect children during the third wave. This is in line with the prognosis of experts from across the world who have held that the third wave would be hard for young children.