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Hope for the best but prepare for the worst

by Jeet Akoijam
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Today, the Prime Minister of India is deliberating with the Chief Ministers of the states on the manner in which current lockdown imposed across the country is to be carried on further and how. And while a spike in the number of infections is seen across many states in the country, Manipur and most of the North Eastern states are faring much better, and it is more than likely that some sort of phased relaxation procedure of the Lockdown will be drawn up for the state during the discussion. While a strict and continuing lockdown will worsen the situation of a majority of the public in the state given the agrarian nature of the state economy, any haste, and indeed any lapse of precaution and social responsibilities on the part of the public or the authorities during the relaxation phase will render all the sacrifices, efforts and collective endeavors upto this point of time an utter waste, and more importantly might very well prove to be a recipe for disaster. Plans are already afoot to bring home a large number of Manipuris stranded at various places due to the countrywide lockdown presently in effect, and quarantine centres have also been reportedly prepared. The state authorities should make sure that the locals residents near these quarantine and isolation centres have realized their unfounded fears of transmission of the virus as was reported earlier, and if there still are the remotest possibility of such, advanced sensitization on the subject should be carried out to ensure no unwanted opposition or obstruction of work ensues. Reports of defective testing kits are another cause for concern which should be given due consideration by the experts and authorities. There are also reports of re-infection of patients which were previously declared virus-free brings clearly proves that one does not necessarily develop immunity to Covid-19 after one is cured of the infection, while a definite answer to the question of how long the virus remains dormant or present in a cured person is still eluding the experts.
Perhaps the most unsettling development regarding the threat of Covid-19 transmission in the state is the reported rise of Covid-19 positive cases in neighboring country Myanmar, with several of the more than 100 cases occurring in areas bordering India. Accordingly, the state government has intensified fencing work and upped vigil along the India-Myanmar border with the deployment of additional security personnel. But if the pictures of the fences circulated in the print and electronic media is anything to go by, it serves the purpose of demarcating the two countries but will do nothing to deter anyone from crossing over from either side, and as it stands, Manipur shares about 398 Kilometres of border with Myanmar, a large part of it inaccessible in the best of times.
In view of these developments, the state authorities need to review its preparedness in fighting the Covid-19 infection, and instead of belting out numbers as a means of assurance, it should look into the worst-case scenario and prepare for it while there is still time and sanity still prevails.

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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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