Worrying upward tick of new infection Back with a vengeance

The upwards tick continues and while this  may not qualify to be another wave as understood as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave,  the virus is still out there and has started picking its target with gay abandon. Statistics don’t lie and it tells a story that is far from comfortable. From June 30 till July 6, Manipur recorded a total of 79 new cases, which makes up all the current active cases in the State. It is not only the total number of infected persons that is a cause of concern but also the test positivity rate. From June 30 to July 6, the weekly positivity rate is 7.94 percent, with July 3 taking the cake with 12.4 percent. On all days from June 30 to July 6, the daily test positivity rate has always been above the 5 percent mark, which is above the mark stipulated by the World Health Organisation as being safe to open up. The 5 percent benchmark is crucial and herein lies the sorry story of Manipur at this moment. It is in line with the rising cases that Chief Minister N Biren held a review meeting on the Covid situation on July 4 and while no new measures or restrictions have been announced, it is imperative that stricter measures are taken up before the situation blows out of proportion. The question is what are the options before the State Government ? This is where all would need to pool in their heads and think out of the box to tackle the virus which is still out there and which appears to have regained its vigour and hence has started infecting with ‘vengeance’. Most probably the State Government would not entertain the idea of another spell of lockdown, but certainly  vigil can be tightened. It is also disheartening to note that despite the rise in the number of daily cases, the COVID-19 Common Control Room has still not thought it fit to inform whether the infected people have had any travel history in recent times or not. This is important, for then everyone can get an idea on how the virus has picked up vigour and is today infecting more and more people after lying dormant for so many days now. Are incoming passengers still being scanned at say the airport and at the entry points at Mao and Jiribam ? Nothing much has been heard about this for quite some time now and perhaps it may help if the Government can entertain the idea of setting up the scanning mechanisms again, for no chances should be taken with the virus. Manipur has already seen and experienced the trauma during the second spell of the pandemic and surely no one would want a repeat. And this is where the earlier observation that no one knows how the virus behaves or will behave gains importance.
For starters, set up the scanning points at the airport and the entry points at Mao and Jiribam. Secondly make face mask in public places mandatory again. This is not the time to take chances and suggesting these measures is surely not pressing the alarm button, but just reminding all, particularly the Government, that it never hurts to be prepared to face any eventuality. Take a look at the statistics again. On June 30, Manipur recorded 4 new cases. On July 1 it was 4, then 7 on July 2, 16 on July 3, 9 on July 4, 17 on July 5 and 22 on July 6. More than enough indications that the virus has made a comeback. The disturbing point is, no one knows or it has not yet been found out, whether the strain which has given a new surge of live to the virus is Omicron or another variant of the coronavirus. Another point of concern is the low vaccination coverage in the State. Till today, only 53.26 percent of the population have been fully inoculated, that is have received their second dose. This is one area which the Government may lay special focus on, particularly in the hill districts where the vaccination rate is extremely low. Kangpokpi has only 22.82 pc of the eligible population having received their first dose with only 17.54 percent getting their second dose. It is the same at the other hill districts, such as Ukhrul, Kamjong, Pherzawl, Noney, Senapati, Tamenglong, Tengnoupal. Chandel is the lone exception with 73.91 percent having received their first dose and 61.24 percent their second dose.