At least, there is a little less jugglery of figures and percentages or comparisons in the media, both mainstream and social, as the pandemic situation in the country grew from bad to worse in recent days. Across the country, there are reports of long queues in front of testing and vaccination centres.
Hospitals are running out of beds and oxygen while the funeral pyres continue to burn non-stop. Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is among the worst affected in the country and its people are suffering as the situation went out of control. With a nationwide daily surge of 2 lakh plus positive figures in the last few days, central authorities seems to have come to their senses with the announcement of vaccination of all above 18 years of age from May 1. But, questions have been raised as to from where the vaccines are coming as stocks are drying up everywhere and capability of producing more vaccines at a faster rate is not in the horizon to meet the demand. Well, the Kumbh Mela and state assembly elections had already done their damage and the signs of both oblivion and mismanagement are glaring enough for everyone to see. No amount of propaganda or political chicanery will be able to hide the facts of mismanagement in the second wave, now. But, for the present we have to put all our energies together in fighting the pandemic.
Back home in the state, the numbers are fast catching up to a daily surge of 94 positive cases in the last twenty four hours and this is the highest after the lull. What needs to be seen is which section of the population is contributing to the sharp rise in positive numbers. Early signs had shown it to be mostly from state natives returning from the outside the state either by air or by road and the state government took a decision to block the entry of all passengers without a negative RT-PCR report in the state. Travellers without negative report were turned away at Mao and Jiribam entry points, while air passengers without such reports are tested at the airport. In a further follow-up, the state government had even warned various airlines not to bring passengers without valid negative reports to Imphal. This has led to so many Imphal bound Manipuri passengers being stranded in various airports of the country. There were complaints that, as the situation is very grim in other parts of the country it is very difficult to get tested and get results in time while the airlines keep increasing the fares by the hour. We think, the complaint is genuine and those without negative test reports could be tested at the airport or at the entry points of Mao and Jiribam. After all, they are also the sons and daughters of the soil and they should not feel discriminated by the state.
We also have to keep in mind that it is not only people coming from outside, but a large number of people are also getting infected with the virus through inappropriate Covid behaviour. Many do not wear masks properly or do not wear it all, while physical distancing is not maintained at all in the markets and ceremonies. More important, some people are not disclosing their Covid-19 status or not getting tested even while symptoms are apparent due to fear of stigma or discrimination.
According to a public health specialist, such instances of suppression not only increase the chances of spreading infection among people who interact with the affected person without realising the stakes, but also endanger the family members if they, too, are living in the same house without isolating the patient. The rule says a person should remain isolated for 17 days from the onset of symptoms. In case of suppression, if the biomedical waste is not disposed of separately, it may spread infection. This has become a matter of concern in many localities.