It is simple but obvious that no one wants to follow it. Get vaccinated, stick to the safety norms-which include wearing a face mask, maintain social distancing, always wash one’s hand thoroughly with soap and water or in case washing one’s hand is not convenient use an alcohol based hand sanitiser, stay away from crowds... in short give meaning and substance to the call of the new normal. In fact the term ‘new normal’ may just be a misnomer now, given that Manipur has been under siege due to the virus since 2020 and in two years the behaviour of the people should have seen a marked change. That this is not happening can easily be summed up by taking a look at any market place in Imphal or elsewhere in the districts. It is not only at the market places where Covid protocols are no longer adhered to but even in Government offices. A point which was brought out in all its ugliness in the story filed by a reporter of The Sangai Express datelined, Imphal July 14. The report is a reminder to the people and the Government that the virus is still out there though it may have laid low for some months. This should be more than a prompting to the people that the best way to beat the virus and send it packing is to stick to the protocols laid down by the World Health Organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research and enforced by the respective State Governments. Look at the statistics. In the past two weeks, that is from July 1 to July 14, Manipur has recorded 424 new Covid cases. Calculate this and it works out to 30.28 cases per day which can be said to be disturbing. And out of the 424 total cases logged so far in July, in the last five days, that is from July 10 to July 14, the total number of cases logged is 278. This means that just five days have contributed more than half of the total cases of 424. By any calculation, this is a sharp spike and this is what is worrying. With no one really understanding how the virus behaves and will behave in the days to come, it is difficult to say how Covid would feature in the next few days. This is precisely the reason why no chances should be taken and perhaps the Government may look at the possibility of clamping down the restrictions placed earlier with renewed vigour. It is obvious that the virus is now running rampant in the North East, especially at Assam, Mizoram and Sikkim. Manipur is closely trailing these States and if care is not taken now, things may just blow out of proportion.
Just two weeks back, all the Covid beds in the two major hospitals, JNIMS and RIMS were lying vacant. Not the stress on the past tense for today (As on July 14), all the 14 Covid beds at JNIMS have been occupied. At RIMS out of the 47 Covid beds, 13 have been occupied which means that of the 320 active cases (till July 14), at least 27 need hospitalisation. Not a comfortable thought at all and this is where people need to put on their face mask, maintain social distancing, and avoid huge crowd, else the virus may take on a more dangerous turn. No one would want this. The Sangai Express still sticks to its earlier stand that home isolation may not be what the situation demands. Everyone knows how a typical house is built in Manipur. A room is invariably shared between siblings. A common toilet and bathroom is the norm and not the exception. Not all, correction, majority of the houses in Manipur are not suited for keeping someone totally isolated, thereby increasing the chances of the virus spreading to other family members. This is where the Government may start looking at the option of re-opening some of the Covid Care Centres. The COVID-19 Common Control Room too has still not heeded the earlier call to inform the people on the travel history of the newly infected persons, so that people at least get a fair idea on how the virus has started spreading again. Is it local spread or is the virus being brought in by those who have just returned to Manipur from other parts of the country ? How effectively are the screening works being carried out at the entry points of the State ? Perhaps an answer to this would be helpful. The fact that the virus has started occupying prime space on the pages of the Imphal based newspapers should more than underline the resurgence of the virus and this is what is worrying.