Give more teeth to contact tracing Too many loose ends

Scale up vaccination, contact tracing and testing by providing additional manpower, mobility support and IEC Advocacy. This is the line assured by the State Home Department in its official notification issued on August 7 and while one hopes that such measures do help in bringing down the surge of positive cases, care should be taken to ensure that this is not an exercise on paper but is actually implemented in letter and spirit at the ground reality. Scale up contact tracing. This is where it is interesting. The Sangai Express has on numerous occasions more than hinted that this is an exercise that has been left wanting too glaringly and had even suggested talking to some of those who have recovered to get an idea on how far the contact tracing part is followed faithfully. How many of those who had come into contact with an infected person contacted and their status inquired ? Isn’t this a part of the exercise understood as contact tracing ? Shouldn’t all those who could have come into contact with the infected person be reached out, inquired upon to take up steps accordingly or is the contact tracing process something entirely different ? For the record, in the span of more than one year, that is from 2020 to August, 2021 six editorial staff of The Sangai Express have tested positive for the virus and not even once has the authority concerned thought it fit to contact the office or any of the staff to know their status. Most of the infected staff were also not asked on who they came into contact with in the days just before they tested positive. This is just an example that has been cited to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that contact tracing seems to be on paper only, not moving from the line, ‘containment and contact tracing are in place’ religiously put in the media handout issued everyday by the COVID-19 Common Control Room.
Test, trace, treat. This is the mantra to take the fight to the virus that is playing havoc with the lives of the people and without the word, ‘trace’ the mantra will stand broken. The Government will also need to take another hard look at the home isolation model that has been adopted. This has been pointed out many times and while one agrees that the CCCs and CHICs taken together may not be able to house all the infected persons, the Government should at least study other options to discourage people from opting for home isolation. As pointed out many times here, most of the houses in Manipur are not suited to lodge anyone infected with a virus as contagious as the coronavirus. Members of the family share the same bathroom and toilet and at the most, a house may have two or maybe three latrines but not for each individual. Same is the case with bathroom. The Government will need to seriously study this model and put more purpose in its earlier announcement that houses would be studied to see if they are suited for home isolation.