COVID-19 Trend: Counting the sick and the dead

Do we a have reason to celebrate the slight increase in recovery rate today or should we be despairing for the fact that Manipur’s recovery rate is far below the national average?

On Tuesday, 270 people, including 56 personnel of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), were tested positive during the last 24 hours at RIMS, JNIMS and several other laboratories. This is the highest jump in the number of positive cases on a single day. Of the 214 civilians who have been tested positive, 54 belong to Imphal West, 100 to Imphal East, 29 to Thoubal, three to Tengnoupal, six to Bishnupur, seven to Kakching, three to Chandel, one to Kangpokpi, five to Churachandpur, one to Kamjong, one to Senapati and four to Tamenglong. Out of them, 205 have no significant history of travelling outside the State. So says, the spokesperson of State Covid 19 Control Room while also rolling out the number of patients discharged and active cases, and of course, the recovery rate which goes up and down. The latest recovery rate has been pegged at 75.81% with 62 deaths and 2206 active cases, so far. After the detection of the first case of Covid 19 positive in the person of a London returnee girl from Thangmeiband on March 24, it has become a routine affair for the Health department to release the numbers with a sprinkling of data analysis to the media.

It is all the same at the national level also. Officials keep doling out numbers and comparative data like, the number of recoveries remained higher than the detection of new cases for the fifth straight day on Tuesday. In fact, the result has been a significant decline in the number of active cases in the country in the last five days. It fell from a high of 10.17 lakh on September 17 to a little over 9.68 lakh. Perhaps, it is because of the number of samples being tested. In the last three days, the number of samples having been tested have averaged around 8.72 lakh, much lower than the 10-11 lakh samples being tested before that. Official hand-outs keep comparing with the India figure with the figures of other countries, in trying to paint a positive picture. With a population of 1.33 billion, India has now 5.5 million positive cases. Out of 30 lakhs, Manipur’s cumulative figure of positive cases stands at 9376, while the number of positive cases decreased for the first time in recent days below 100 on Wednesday. Again, the recovery rate increased from 74.21% to 75.81%, after a week-long spell of decreasing recovery rate from 79.53% on September 14.

So what? Do we a have cause to celebrate the slight increase in recovery rate today or should we be despairing for the fact that Manipur’s recovery rate is far below the national average? Should we be happy that the number of positive cases has fallen to 96 as compared to 3 digit increases in the last few weeks? With the daily dose of figures being served, the first question on the lips of the general public has also become the numbers. This is indeed a disturbing trend in the public psyche.

Even the media has become addicted to the figures, while human interest stories related to the pandemic has largely been missing. Just like the AADHAR which has reduced us citizens to unique numbers, have we been reduced to just numbers in the death count of the pandemic? What we want to impress upon the state government and health authorities is that, the pandemic is not all about numbers and figures. It is a public health issue, which has impacted the socio-economic life of the general population like never before. The world has changed and we need to adapt to the changes. And it is not the time to hide behind figures, like we are doing now debating whether to call the present trend of transmission ‘local’ or ‘community’ in the technical parlance.

First Published:Sept. 24, 2020, 7:28 a.m.

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