Imposing fresh curbs, need of the hour

SK Singh *

 A testing in progress
A testing in progress :: Pix - TSE

Scanning the incidence of CORONA-19 in the state, the region and the country after 180 days of nonstop confinement in the house, one is left with increasing unease and grim concern of the intensity of the disease.

People in the vulnerable age group, those above 60 years, more for those above 70, are facing the onslaught of the pandemic more than ever. This worry is inevitable; it only accelerates over the days.

For one, what could be the way out, how to manage a life bereft of social life? The incidence of greater depression and loneliness is on the rise. Exposing to this a scenario more and more over the months to come is dead-certain unless a more aggressive approach is available. Exposing to this setting for long tends to worsen the mental health and multiply inherent problems among the senior denizens.

This subjective loneliness and compelling isolation especially for the older adults is telling on the psychological wellbeing of these categories of people. Researchers claim that around 78% of such groups use some form of internet technology to keep in touch with loved ones or Scanning incidents happening across the country, the world.

The world over, a study published in the journal “Sustainability’, claimed that COVID-19 has severely affected people’s daily lives and mental health, increasing their stress, fear of getting sick and facing severe financial strain.

In Manipur, however, only a small handful of people can take advantage of this habit; most are computer-illiterate. I for one, pass my days without much anxiety, keeping myself occupied with household chores, helping the family, a little bit of gardening, connecting with loved ones, 5 or 6 of them over telephonic chats almost routinely.

Plus I try to keep myself engaged in jotting down on some topic of relevance to issues confronting my mother-land Manipur or even of regional or national interest or the other. Presently too, I am attempting to keep engaged in this line just as I try this piece right now.

Confined or isolated, the immediate concern is if the trend of incidence is tapering or worryingly on the rise. Looking around, we apprehend a gloomy situation where across the world; the incidence of infection is on the rise, that too, menacingly. The corona cases are rapidly surging the world over in an even more alarming way.

While vaccines may take over a year or so if the trend is being reported, the only measure we are left with is identifying and preventing symptoms. In other words, the only avenue is to hide from the virus by locking ourselves.

Another concern is the fact that a lot of factors, age, severity, pre-existing health conditions etc make it more vicious. The fact that this pandemic is much more contagious than influenza, though initial symptoms are comparable broadly, makes it more dangerous to be treated lightly.

India which we talked about and even the public opinion abroad too took notice of, the initial slow rate of infection largely attributed to so-called, ‘Modi’s Strategy of Quick Lockdown’, and concomitant measures to woo the people, to sail the ideas of adhering to the basic isolation, indispensability of lockdown, following the SOP etc.

Sooner than later, this strategy of solid lockdown, resulted to poor dividends when the cases of fresh infection were on the rise. India had a case load of 50 lakh on 16 September, it spiked to 53 lakh in the next two days on 18 Sept. Barely 2 months earlier it ended with just around 10 lakh on 17 July.

It doubled to 20 lakh in 20 days on 7 August. It added another 10 lakh on 23 August and went past 40 lakh on Sept 5. In 11 days India added an additional load of 10 lakh mounting to 53 lakh on 18 September.

Half a month back India outstripped Brazil in terms of total cases of the pandemic to rank 2nd next only to USA. And this surge is not ordinary, rather it is phenomenal. Recall the statistics of total cases, fresh infection, recovered and active cases. The most crucial input is, as I consider, ‘New Cases’. India’s new case accounts for 43% of the total World’s daily number.

It is over 10 times of Brazil’s; 4 times of USA, 30 times of Indonesia, a country relatively populous and beset with poor standard of living. China which is being overtaken by India shortly as the most populous country in the world reports ‘Zero New Case’.

We have 92,701, officially; could be more, much more recalling the practice of underreporting of such cases in our system. Given this trend, one can be sure, in the days to come; India would claim the topmost rank in the COVID-19 cases.

Couldn’t there be some urgent drastic measures to restrain the sharp surge with looming prospects for still sharper spike? Which areas of restrain could be accorded priority? Won’t there be immediate need for fresh imposition? Yes, there is need for gearing up containment measures, stricter than any time before.

By and large, people seem to be generally conscious with sanitizer at hand, disinfectants around and mask too sporting all the time. One can see vegetable, fish, milk vendors with gloves in hand, sprays liberally used for disinfecting currency notes before pocketing. What then is the deficiency in our ways that could spread the virus so fast?

In our state the fresh infection in 24 hours reached a high 170 in the evening of 20 September; still on an increasing trend from 117 cases a day before, a spike just short of 50%. Over 70% of the fresh cases have no travel history implying local contact, a perilous development for sure.

Containment zones are springing up across the leikais, almost a daily affair threatening alarming rates of transmission of the pandemic. Imphal West district is consistently a hot zone and since it forms the hub of almost all social and economic activities, be they government institutions, market places, trades and business, more surge of the spread cannot be ruled out.

In other words, more strict curbs are called for. In the backdrop of this scenario, fresh thought need be applied on the indispensable need for some form of consultation with teachers for students in classes IX to XII; more so in science and mathematics streams.

In the six months of no-class, even where online-classes and other media are adopted, in tough subjects students need quite a few clarifications from their teachers. These consultation classes need be accorded high priority to save the students from total loss of classes during this year.

As it is, the pandemic is likely to have its sway, according to experts, till past November and even more when even a fresh surge is predicted.

The modality of classes can be worked out where numbers can be staggered over shifts suitably planned. Other states in the NER are going ahead with suitable measures to partially open some classes for clarification.

We need too, to act now to save the students from further loss. All students may not need, select ones of course on voluntary basis with written consent from parents may be considered subject to SoPs prescribed by the GOI and the state concerned. In the midst of fresh curbs, which are essentially called for, the plight of the teeming boys and girls need special consideration, without further delay.

* SK Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 23 2020.

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