Though the idea and practice of ‘lockdown’ have been primarily understood from the perspective of security related to crime and punishment, it is also an emergency measure enforced by authorities in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or designated localities based on threat perception. In a full lockdown, people in specific areas are ordered to stay where they are and must not exit or enter other areas. It is a preventive plan to preempt unusual situation in a system so as to ward off dangers likely to be encountered by the people.
To effectively deal with the spread of COVID-19, Manipur has been placed under a lockdown from Monday till March 31. Essential services have been exempted from the purview of the lockdown. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet. The same meeting had also decided to set up isolation wards at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS).
Moreover, the state government has decided to distribute rice, meant for April under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), free of cost to support the needy during the lockdown. Beneficiaries of the Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang health insurance scheme who do not possess the NFSA card will also be given free rice.
While the measure adopted by the state should be appreciated in view of the current COVID-19 pandemic across the length and breadth of India, citizens should also be aware that lockdown as a means to fight coronavirus is not just enough. The World Health Organization’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan had also emphasized that public health measures too are needed to avoid a resurgence of the virus later on. Ryan stated that what we really need to focus on is “finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them” and their contacts. He said this during an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Ryan gave the examples of China, Singapore and South Korea, which coupled restrictions with rigorous measures to test every possible suspect, provided a model for Europe which has replaced Asia as the epicentre of the pandemic. “Once we’ve suppressed the transmission, we have to go after the virus. We have to take the fight to the virus,” he said while pointing out that Italy is now the worst hit country in the world by the coronavirus.
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Several vaccines were being developed but only one had begun its trial in the United States. One is not sure when will the global community start benefiting from the vaccine trials. Till then, we can only be realistic and be prepared to face the crisis that has already hit hard powerful countries around the world.