Updated on 8 May 2021, 2:15 pm
The Covid-19 virus is definitely airborne in the second wave. Safety measures mandated earlier by health authorities with regard to masking oneself properly while going outside and maintaining physical distance and regular hand-washing is no longer safe. Sadly, the authorities did not come clean on this aspect. They simply advised the general public to wear masks even inside their homes, but they did not specifically mentioned the aspect of the virus being airborne at all. After perusing daily updates of the Covid-19 situation by the Health department, it was previously felt that the spike in recent Covid-19 infections was mostly because of state natives returning in the state. But, in the last few weeks the trend has been such that whole families are getting infected once a family member is infected. From a two digit figure of 21 positive cases on April 14, the daily surge of Covid-19 positive cases has increased to 600 positive cases on May 6, while the active cases has risen to 3506 and 449 deaths. Thursday’s positive case figure was just 380. The hotspots are Imphal West and Imphal East district, while Churachandpur is fast catching up with steep daily hikes.
The spike continues even after declaring the whole of Greater Imphal area as containment zone with several restrictions. The market women of Imphal, who had just begun to resume their daily trade and life, were aghast at the state government decision to close down the women markets once again. But, Chief Minister N Biren Singh took the risk and went ahead with the semi-lockdown. Yet, it failed to contain the surge.
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Like we said, what we are doing now is chasing the daily surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths and mostly catch up. It is a losing battle as we continue to be overwhelmed by the increasing spike in infections coupled with lack of adequate hospital beds and critical care facilities, besides inadequate in-house production of oxygen in the state to meet the increasing demand as the numbers add up daily in three figures and finally 600. Something is missing in the works and we are yet to pin down the cause and effect of the unexplained surge, inspite of the restrictions. We have the State Control Room and constituency level Control Rooms besides the state level Covid-19 Consultative Committee. The state government response very much depends on the inputs of the Control rooms and the expert committees especially of health professionals for it to form opinions and take decisions accordingly. The administration or the bureaucracy must take into consideration the health issues or warning signals. But while taking an administrative decision, it must adopt a holistic approach and consider different trajectories besides health issues as caused by the pandemic in general. The political decision comes last, which is mostly based on the inputs of the experts and bureaucrats. So, the general feeling is that the Chief Minister is either not fully briefed or made aware of the actual situation or options open to him in dealing with the pandemic in its present avatar. The latest wave can only be dealt with, when the state adopts an aggressive strategy with multiple focus to match the varied problems associated with it and certainly not in the fire-fighting mode. One thing is very clear, the Chief Minister is not being presented the picture wholly for him to make an informed decision. Maybe, it is time for a reshuffle in the bureaucracy particularly in Health and Home for a fresh beginning and approach.