TODAY -

COVID-19: The fear of imported cases

Dr Paode A *



Amid fear of death from COVID-19, everyone wants to get back to work, school, college and together again as soon as possible. However, the fear of dying is primarily more staggering than wanting of going back to the days of normalcy.

Though Manipur ramps up efforts to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the virus continues to lurk in people who are unaware they are carrying and spreading it to others in any ways.

What will happen in India and the world in the coming days is uncertain. As the nationwide lockdown will end on 3rd May, India continues to face the pandemic with no sign of plateauing the curve. While India is at the crucial juncture in its fight against COVID-19, on record Manipur had only two infected migrated cases; one from abroad and the other from the capital city New Delhi.

According to the case classification and transmission classification based on WHO analysis, the imported case indicates locations where all cases are acquired outside the location of reporting.

Therefore, the fear of imported cases – initial travelling days show no sign of infections – shouldn’t be lightly taken even when certain lockdown relaxation measures are likely to implement in the following weeks.

Lockdown relaxation measures depending on the spot assessment reports of the situation may contradict to the migrated cases. The provision of allowing stranded persons who are residing outside the state, particularly in the hardest-hit states to return home may likely result another issue of migrated cases if proper mechanisms are not formulated in priority.

It has being reported that China is still coping with a steady increase in domestic clusters of novel Coronavirus infections triggered by people arriving from overseas or region to region within the state.

Though the number of locally transmitted infections dropped in China, the fear of imported cases is still a mounting pressure. Recently, new cases of COVID-19 in China have been reported of which majority of them have been imported from overseas and domestic.

The Hong Kong government announced that residents returning to the city from outside would be required to stay overnight at a designated hotel until they are able to receive test results the following days.

Fortunately there is no any information of locally transmitted infections in Manipur besides the two already discharged patients.

Day after the patient discharge Manipur’s Chief Minister N Biren Singh says “There is no positive case of COVID -19 in the state but this doesn’t mean we can afford to let our guard down. The state needs to maintain extra vigil at its border areas to check entry of infected persons”.

However, the mounting fear of imported cases among the people both in the valley and hill is still prevailing.

Increasing number of quarantine facilities and severe lockdown measures in the state cannot rule out the fear of menacing contagiousness of the virus through migrated cases. And the updated status and constant vigilance across the state cannot be deemed at low risk of spreading the virus.

Thus, the mounting fear of imported cases in Manipur should not be superseded by quintessential of lockdown relaxations and allowing stranded people to return home to the state without proper mechanism and surveillance strategies.

Besides the fear of imported cases, a new study report in the Lancet Medical Journal, London, has found out that the virus lived in the respiratory tracts of some patients for more than five weeks.

Moreover, scientists and medical experts still don’t have definitive answer to the crucial question, including how to determine whether a recovered patient has developed immunity, and how long the protection lasts. Given these reports, we cannot simply construe that cured patients have less chances of looming up the symptoms again. Therefore, the contagious of the disease may arise again too.

As there is a possibility that some businesses, airlines and railways may resume in a very strict form, it can be speculated that the infected returnees have a greater risk of spreading the virus while the coronavirus lingers on.

The projections of giving relaxation to those who are stranded outside the state to return home is inviting the question of how they would be assisted or quarantine in the state. Because if any of the returnees tested positive, classified as ‘migrated cases’, there would be another crisis in the state instead of having zero cases as of now.

Our collective behaviour will be the primary determinant of whether we can keep this virus in control. Therefore, by any means we all need to cooperate with the state machinery of containing the virus and, the intention of wanting to go back to the past normal days should not be the priority.

So, if we are successful at maintaining ourselves from infecting then we can consider improving our present situation into a new phase – slowly retrieving back to normal days.

Around the world limited availability of coronavirus testing and unequipped quarantine facilities have attracted frequent criticism, and opened a rift between the government and the general public.

Easing restrictions is tenable but what will evolve after that in the society is a matter of concern. Of course, having resorted to the stricter measures would be somehow counterproductive, but will the citizens of Manipur buy the relaxing measures in the mid of having the question of who will scientifically and protectively quarantine the returnees.

Any decision of the state putting interests above the safety and well-being of the uninfected citizens might have a ramification if migrated cases emerge again in the state.


* Dr Paode A wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Asst Prof at Don Bosco College, Maram
This article was webcasted on April 28, 2020.



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