Not the time to let the guard down The virus is still out there

The detection of new cases has definitely come down in the last couple of days, but this should not dull the senses of anyone into thinking that the virus has been checked. It is very much out there even today, infecting at will and as the National Health Mission, Manipur said in its front page advertisement on September 21, 2021, ‘Covid virus still exists. Let us not forget preventive steps’ and detailed them as ‘Wear face masks; Avoid crowding, especially in closed rooms; Take Covid vaccination.’ Let it be clear, the front page advertisement inserted by the National Health Mission, Manipur was not to gloss over any achievement of the Government nor a back patting exercise, but was a sincere reflection of the reality and a call to the people to come to the reality that the virus is still out there and continues to stalk and infect at will. As repeatedly pointed out in this column, there is always the need to go beyond the absolute number and look at the daily positivity rate. With the IDSP now giving the district break up figures of not only the absolute number of new cases and deaths but also the daily positivity rate in each district, the people should  now have an idea of how the low number of infection does not exactly reflect low spread of the virus. It is the daily positivity rate that one should take into account too, to get a better understanding of the spread of the virus. On September 21, 2021, Ukhrul district reported only 24 new cases, but the new cases were detected out of a total of 299 samples being tested, which sent the daily positivity rate to 8 percent, which is way above the WHO recommended figure of 5 percent and below to come anywhere near the understanding of having brought the spread under control. On the same day, Kangpokpi too reported only 7 cases but that came from 82 samples tested to take the daily positivity rate to 8.5 percent. The twin districts of the capital, continue to be worrying with Imphal East reporting 47 new cases out of a total sample of 456 to take the daily positivity rate to 10.3 percent. All above the 5 percent mark, a figure which WHO had suggested for any place to entertain the idea of opening up.
Manipur has gradually opened up, but the reality is, it is the economic and social compulsion that has led to this and not because the virus has been reined in. This is where the call to always wear the face mask, even when one is at home, particularly when a family member test positive, avoid crowding or maintain social distancing, wash one’s hand frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol based sanitiser becomes all that more important. This is all that more so in the face of experts having predicted a third wave. It is not yet clear when the third wave will come but lessons from the past, particularly when the spread of the virus slowed down considerably during the first wave and then picked up during the second wave, which proved more lethal and more dangerous, should not be forgotten. Even now it is imperative for all not to move out from one’s home unnecessarily, for the virus is still out there. The call  for the New Normal is still very relevant and people should remember that the New Normal encompasses a totally new approach to how one interacts with others and how one should conduct oneself in public and even while inside one’s own home.