Combat Covid: Retreat or surrender
One thing is clear, we have already started the Unlock process knowing fully well the risks involved taking into account the paramount importance of life and the economy.
Going by the daily rate of increase in Covid-19 positive cases in the last few days, the state government should certainly be alarmed. It is understandable. With an estimated population figure of 30 lakhs, increase at the rate of 300 plus everyday is something to be feared. Yet, it would not be wise to respond to the present state of the pandemic in the state with a knee-jerk reaction. The State Consultative Committee on Covid-19 has experts, including public health professionals and bureaucrats. Besides, we now have an advisor to the chief minister in the person of Konthoujam MLA Dr Sapam Ranjan Singh who himself is a health professional and is also directly supervising the Covid-19 operations in the state on behalf of the chief minister who now holds the Health portfolio, after L Jayantakumar Singh was dropped from the ministry.
We all understand that the present situation with regard to the pandemic is grave and life has been thrown out of gear for the last eight months and of course everyone is restive waiting for an opportunity to vent their anger. Not only, life and activity have come to a standstill but it has impoverished everyone in the book and the worst hit is the economy in terms of both the state and the individual. The poor and needy besides the daily wagers have been worst affected, with an anger directionless building up among the general public. One has to earn and make a living even in the worst of circumstances has been one of the most vociferous voices despite the restrictions imposed by the government in a bid to control the pandemic and break the chain somehow.
At such a juncture, the general public pays little heed to awareness campaigns or Jan Andolan or whatever one choose to call them messages of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene. With the ever increasing number of positive cases and deaths everyday, the general public expects something worth following or reassurances with a positive outlook and much more than mere lip service which the present government seems to be doing. From the month of March this year when the pandemic made its entry, the government both at the Centre and the state is yet to provide a new and imaginative approach in the fight against the pandemic till now except repeating the precautionary measures of wearing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing over and over again. Of course, there were the silly calls of diya or candle lighting and banging utensils in between.
What we should be doing now is to ignite our minds and using our imagination bring back life and activity while also taking precautions against the pandemic. We have to ponder on defining the much talked about ‘new normal’ where we learn to live with the pandemic by our terms. For this, we need to have a conceptual clarity. One thing is clear, we have already started the Unlock process knowing fully well the risks involved taking into account the paramount importance of life and the economy. We knew, positive cases and deaths are going to increase once we open up. Now, if we panic and once again revert to the lockdown process or area-wise strict containment process again, we would not have a future.