Setting aside 30 beds for childrenGearing up ahead of 3rd wave

Experts are agreed on two points-There will be a third wave in the country and two, children will be hit hard in the third wave. It is also generally agreed that India was caught on the wrong foot when the second wave hit the country hard, infecting at will and taking lives left, right and centre. The question is whether India as a whole is ready or is gearing up to meet the challenges that the third wave of the epidemic will come with. Some States have already started rolling up their sleeves well ahead of the third wave, with the Delhi Government taking the lead and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announcing the formation of a special task force to meet the challenges that the third wave is likely to throw on the people. As early as May 27 or even earlier, a number of States had started earmarking beds for paediatric Covid care, with Maharashtra aiming to increase the paediatric Covid beds from 600 to 2,300. Uttarakhand is another State which is also planning to start a facility where mothers of Covid infected children may be housed. Same is the case with other States like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu where steps have been taken up or mulled to be taken up with special focus on children. It is amid the hectic preparations being taken up in some States, that a 60 bedded Covid Care Centre has decided to reserve 30 beds specifically for children suffering from Covid infection here in Manipur.  Not the first place to show on ground that some preparations have been taken up ahead of the third wave, but nevertheless a significant move on the part of the Government.
Thirty beds marked for children below the age of 15 is the official line taken and this is where questions may well be raised under what consideration the ‘below 15’ years criteria has been taken. What about children above 15 years but below 18 ? Wouldn’t they come under the vulnerable section ? Or is the understanding or definition of children going to be understood by the yardstick of 15 years ? Questions which must be deliberated before the third wave hits the State, targeting children.  Other than setting aside beds for children at a Covid Care Centre, it would do good for Manipur to study the model being adopted in other States such as in Delhi where a special task force, comprising of paediatricians is in the offing. Children obviously will need a different line of care and this is where the role of paediatricians becomes important. Other than children, the State Government too must start gearing up for the third wave even as the second wave continues to take a heavy toll on the people and the place. The second wave may be on the downswing in other parts of the country, but there is no sign that it is ebbing here in Manipur and the important lesson to be drawn from the second wave is to be always on the alert. Manipur cannot afford to be caught on the wrong foot again.