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Bracing for the worst

by Jeet Akoijam
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In the growing list of casualties of Covid-19 among the frontline health workers in the state, a doctor posted at District Hospital, Senapati has reportedly been tested positive yesterday for the raging contagion that has brought the world to a standstill. As a precautionary measure, contact tracing of both primary and secondary contacts are actively taken up by the Rapid Response Team, Senapati as well as all primary contacts – both the hospital staff on duty and patients who attended Medicine OPD on the 20th and 21st of July are directed to report to the office of the District Surveillance Officer Senapati for mmediate testing and the secondary contacts are advice to follow strict home Quarantine to contain the possible spread of Covid-19. While the unfortunate report is but another number in the continuously increasing total, the confusion over the possibility of community transmission in the state has been heightened with the media reports indicating a more than likely possibility while the state authority and experts have so far denied or rather refrained from confirming the same.
According to state officials, the spread of COVID-19 is divided into stages of no case, sporadic cases, clustering of cases and community transmission, the release said, “There is evidence of local clustering of cases at Jiribam police station. There is no community transmission.” Meanwhile Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Wednesday announced 7 days total lockdown in the entire state starting Thursday afternoon which may be extended upto 14 days. The lockdown will come into force from 2 PM. Briefing the media, the Chief Minister said that the decision was taken by the state cabinet in an emergency meeting held on Thursday evening in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 particularly cases without travel history. What should the general public make of the two confusingly contrasting statements? Are we to feel reassured because the State Health Department official declared that there is no community transmission in Manipur, or take precautions and observe heightened procedures which will obviously hamper our already restricted lives even further? Notwithstanding the official stand on the prevailing situation, it has become imperative for everyone to have a clear understanding of what these forms or stages of transmissions mean and why they matter. The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises the spread of a pathogen into stages as a way of indicating the level or severity of its permeation among the population. Stage 1 refers to imported cases where individuals pick up the virus from travelling to infected countries. Stage 2 is local transmission that occurs when infected persons can trace the persons they were infected by. Community transmission or stage 3, on the other hand happens when an individual with no travel history or no known contacts with confirmed cases thereby making the source of infection untraceable.
While there has been promising reports of various agencies and pharma companies already carrying out trials of vaccines for the present pandemic, there is no confirmed cure for the same, and while we can take solace from the assertion of the state health department’s claim of absence of community transmission in Manipur, it would be prudent to assume the worst and follow more stringent preventive measures accordingly. It doesn’t hurt to be a little bit more cautious, especially during this present time when nothing is for sure and mistakes can happen even with experts.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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