TODAY -

Is the inevitable on its way ?
(Is it a lull before the storm)

SK Singh *

 Poster Distribution Programme on COVID-19  by CM N Biren at CM Bungalow, Imphal on October 30 2020
Poster Distribution Programme on COVID-19 by CM N Biren at CM Bungalow, Imphal on October 30 2020 :: Pix - DIPR Manipur



The recent drop in daily infections, from over 400 a week earlier to 200 to 250 thee days may not reveal the actual picture. Not much, however, to be rejoiced about if the spikes, the death toll on the face of the complacent public are kept in view.

Some may talk about the recent single day ‘recovery’ of 1057 COVID patients on 1st November, as something phenomenal. The fact remains that it was the case of a single shot, not a trend nor a progression.

Recovery rate or absolute recovery may not matter much in the overall endeavor to contain and ultimately to erase this virus. Taming of spread as it occurs around the globe, leading to near eradication, even remotely of the stage where China has exhibited this day should be a great dream.

It is widely reported that many kits and kin of +ve persons are yet to be tested for want of testing kits, the fact goes that there has been drop in number of testing samples. This fewer tests would miss trailing more infected persons which could be carrier of the virus unnoticed with scope for further transmission. The positive cases in the state have already crossed 19,000 by Monday evening, 02 November.

Alongside, fatalities are on the rise, with reports of death around 5 or 6 daily, with all time high of 9 deaths by Monday, 02 Nov. That’s not alone, more alarming situation is emerging; an all-time high of 341 deaths were reported by fall of 2nd November.

The opening up of economic activities, the crowd that swell around unabated in market places, makeshift vendors plus the upcoming bi-elections in the first week of November, when wintry cold climate with all conceivable winter illnesses would set in. Festival seasons, festivities associated with the advent of harvesting season, all point fingers to the grimmer episodes of the spread of the pandemic.

The low infection rate as of now could be just a lull before the setting of the storm that lie in wait, if situations around in the states, say, Delhi for instance, are taken into account. Delhi as of now, witnesses’ 5000 daily cases of the virus. This is projected to jump to 15,000 daily cases as a result of winter illness and festival season in the coming months.

The Union Health Secretary while reviewing the situation in West Bengal, Kerala and Delhi recently felt that there had been nearly 46% increase in new cases over the past 4 weeks. The positivity rate (pc of people testing +ve for the disease against the number tested), nearing 10% this week is considered alarming. They are now adopting a strategy, what they called, “aggressive testing and testing”.

They are now taking steps considering the possibility of the recent surge corresponding to “third wave”. The rising cases are, according to the high level official team, are attributable to ‘social gathering’ during festivities, ‘deteriorating air quality’, ‘increasing incidences of respiratory disorder’ an outcome of cold weather.

This phenomenon of upsurge of infection is felt worst in North and Latin America which account for over 66% of global cases and over 76% of global death. The greatest worry across the globe is reported Europe’s daily new infection which doubled over the past two weeks, reporting over 2,50,000 cases for the first time.

France’s daily total of infection is reportedly over 50,000 for the first time since it broke out 8 months before. Italy after observing a resurgence of the infection has imposed near total lockdown often to the distaste of the citizens resulting to sporadic violence in major cities.

UK ranked 9th among the countries in terms of total cases at 10.34 lakh, compared to India’s 82. 27 lakh is now facing second wave of the pandemic. Without waiting for further hike, England which is the largest of the four constituents (others being Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), has already imposed ‘lock down’ for the second time till 2nd December.

USA too is still facing the worst jolt. On 30 October, USA broke daily record reporting new high of 84,169 cases in virtually every part of the country. This is at a time when the presidential election is slated for 3rd November. The major reason for his hike could be crystal clear.

The remedial prescriptions include, i) aggressive ramp up testing, ii) focus on contact tracing, iii) isolation of traced contacts within 72 hours. They also recommended lay extra focus on containment zones and implementing strict perimeter control, as per MHA guidelines. In Manipur the CM talks about new SOP where he hardly talks about any concrete new measure.

Instead he talks about a collective effort by the people for at least 20 days though he pins hope for a new way of fighting under the new SOP. The issue could be what these new inputs in the revised SOP are which would instill or even awaken a sense of participation actively by the people.

Could the large scale display of banners, pamphlets to various societies, associations, anganwadi workers, ASHAs and laborers who would be stake holders in the new campaign?

What does the common man do at this critical time? The choice is clear. You flout the standard protocols and you get infected or else transmit the virus to others near and dear ones. Worse still, both get infected, still unrecognized and undetected with larger threat of spreading around.

With stated limitation in testing capacity, all may not get opportunity to get tested, with possibility for more transmission. As it is the positivity rate is hardly 10% as lf now across the country. In other words, out of 100 persons getting tested, just around 10 or so would come out to be positive.

The Peoples’ Task Force for Covid-19 (PTFC-19), has come out strongly against the prevailing situation during admission tests, counseling and admission by students in University and colleges. They apprehend that the SOP guidelines were flouted by the aspirants during the processes in that many were not even using face masks.

Physical distancing was just a word throwing away to the winds while in the line for more or so when gathering in groups discussing things out.

If things as they occur around the globe that includes more medically advanced countries in Europe and the US, we may have to bear with tightening of more restrictions, more curbs despite triggering more frustrations and more anger. The crises have deepened in most western countries, the US with the cold climate setting in coupled with the opening of the restrictions.

In our country, in our state too, given the kind of measures, the failures, the spread may not be as visible, but an alarming situation might be a reality the next day.

What do we choose? The prevailing scenario may be a lull before a storm.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 04 2020.



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