COVID-19 in Manipur: What matters is doing it right

IFP Editorial: The state should start focussing on charting a new strategy to ensure smooth flow of oxygen supply to hospitals, increasing critical care facilities with ventilators in all hospitals. We have to think for the possible third wave and plan ahead.

(Photo: IFP)


The clock is ticking and the latest figure in Covid 19 deaths in Manipur has peaked at 23 this Wednesday while the daily infection has come down to 582 from 624 on Tuesday. As it turned out, the dip in daily infections on Monday was because the JNIMS laboratory did not roll out its daily figure due to Covid infection among the laboratory staff. Three of the five doctors of Covid-19 testing laboratory at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) in Imphal tested positive for the viral infection. As a result, the JNIMS laboratory, one of the main testing facilities in Manipur, briefly stopped its operation. The laboratory resumed operation on Tuesday. The three who tested positive included a senior doctor who is leading the laboratory team in conducting the tests since the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic. This incident has caused shortage of manpower in the VRDL laboratory at JNIMS. Of the 17 testing facilities in the state, JNIMS is one of the two main testing facilities after the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) that has the capacity to conduct about 1,000 test samples in 24 hours while the rest are private diagnostic labs, private and district hospitals.

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According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday, India saw a record 4,529 fatalities due to coronavirus in a single day, pushing the COVID-19 death toll to 2,83,248, while 2,67,334 fresh infections were recorded, taking the total tally of cases to 2,54,96,330. The daily Covid 19 death tally is increasing in the state also, while daily infections are decreasing. What does this tell us?

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The answer is simple. While we have been partly successful in breaking the chain of infection through the lockdown and other measures, we are still not adequately equipped to handle the infected. As we said before, the state should now be focusing on charting a new strategy to ensure smooth flow of oxygen supply to hospitals, increasing critical care facilities with ventilators in Imphal city as well as the district hospitals, expanding the reach and pace of vaccination, increased ambulance services with an eye on the poor who cannot afford private ambulance services. We understand, the state government is doing everything in its power to break the chain and augment capacity and tackle shortages in oxygen and ventilators. Central aid has been arriving regularly at Imphal and most recently equipment for the installation of oxygen plants at Churachandpur and Thoubal districts and 10 oxygen concentrators for distribution to different hospitals arrived at Imphal from Delhi by an Indian Air Force flight. The two PSA oxygen plants are being set up with assistance from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Churachandpur unit will have the generation capacity of 200 litres per minute (LPM) while the plant of Thoubal will be of 100 LPM.

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This is fine. But, we have to think for the possible third wave also and plan ahead. The state is at present relying on two private Oxygen plants for supply of medical grade oxygen in the name of health emergency by facilitating uninterrupted power supply. For the future, the state should think of establishing more oxygen plants of its own as one cannot rely on the PSA units alone, when the dam breaks. What matters most in such extreme situation is doing it right with well thought out strategy and outcomes. The answer ‘we are doing everything we can’ would not simply be enough in these trying times.


First Published:May 20, 2021, 9:17 a.m.

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