Health authorities have said nurse at Churachandpur District Hospital could not have got the virus through community transmission but more likely vis lateral transmission.
It may be recalled, a nurse with no travel history tested positive of the coronavirus on June 4, raising a public alarm. The nurse nasal swab sample of the nurse was collected for testing on June 1 and sent for testing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), the Manipur Health Services department stated.
But first a little background. When the rest of India has begun Unlock 1 from June 1, Manipur continues using its power to prohibit certain activities, or else put suitable restrictions on them if they are deemed necessary for the containment of the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.
In effect, the Government of Manipur has decided to continue the prolonged current lockdown for another one month. Manipur has in this way entered Lockdown 5.0 which will extend to June 30.
Since Manipuris stranded outside Manipur started returning home, the number of persons testing positive for COVID-19 cases had started to spike in the once green zone, the some short of secured feeling of the general public are died.
As on June 5, Manipur has 132 persons tested positive while 41 persons have recovered and got discharged and remaining 91 are still active and undergoing treatments in the hospitals.
Before June 4, no doctor or no paramedic who are attending COVID-19 patients or no family members, no relatives, no persons contacted with persons tested COVID-19 positive were tested positive for COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the first confirmed case with no travel history was reported on June 4 in Manipur as a frontline nurse from Churachandpur District Hospital tested COVID-19 positive.
The nurse has been working at the district hospital and her sample was collected for testing on June 1 and sent for testing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), the Manipur Health Services department stated.
The nurse is said to be asymptomatic though she has been evacuated at the Isolation Ward of Churachandpur District Hospital.
When the news of the nurse tested positive spread in social media, people started asking questions if community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has started in Manipur.
However, medical experts said that the nurse might have got infection from the COVID-19 positive patients whom she had contacted in discharging her duties.
Remarkably, Additional Director of Manipur Health Services Department, Dr. Khoirom Sashee Kumar Mangang clarified that the case of the nurse cannot be described as community transmission or local transmission. It can only be considered as lateral transmission.
If the case of the nurse is not local/community transmission, there is no reason to be panicky and strengthening the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Churachandpur District, H Tonsing, said that the nurse had never entered inside the Isolation ward of the hospital. “We are yet to find out how she contracted the virus. She has been working outside the Isolation ward and had never entered the ward,” he added.
The nurse tested positive for the virus during the mandatory tests for those who are working in the hospital.
The CMO informed that to ascertain how the nurse became infected, a team of Health officials from Imphal visited the district hospital. Contact tracing and containment measures have been taken up by the State Health Services department.
If the nurse had not been in the COVID-19 Isolation Ward and had not contacted any of the persons tested COVID-19 positive, local transmission cannot be ruled out. At the time of writing the story, it cannot be confirmed whether she was not at all contacted with any of the persons tested positive for COVID-19.
It may be mentioned that the total number of returnees as on June 4 was 30,063 and out of this 18,281 are still under quarantine.
Meanwhile, many believe that if all the Manipuri returnees from outside the state are quarantined strictly following the guidelines of WHO and ICMR and Government’s SOPs, the pandemic can be contained within the Quarantine Centres and only amongst the returnees and community transmission can be prevented. Therefore, contact tracing and the tests of the returnees need to be increased and sped up.
In this critical juncture, the most unfortunate thing is the violation of quarantine protocols by some VIPs and their family members and inaction of the law enforcing agencies thereto.
Even after the reports of members of VIP families skipping quarantine protocols were published, there was another report of a member of the Manipur Legislative Assembly leaving Imphal Airport after arrival from Delhi on June 4 without following quarantine procedures in his VIP vehicle with escorts.
If such activities of the VIPs and people connected with VIPs are allowed to continue, the heavy price the people of Manipur mostly daily wage earners and poorer section of the society for the last 77 days to flatten the COVID-19 curve, prevent and protect the people of Manipur from the pandemic will be in vain.
However, the MLA who went in his VIP vehicle with escorts without following quarantine protocol is said on June 5 to have been in Paid Quarantine Centre at the Classic Hotel.
The roles of every individual and general public in fighting the COVID-19 is very crucial to not only prevent community transmission but also to prevent oneself from the coronavirus by maintaining physical distancing strictly and keeping health and hygiene well. People also should not go out from home if it is not unavoidable case.
In the changing and developing situation, the Government needs to see the big picture and consider holistically. Even after the 77 days of Lockdown, it will not be wise to continue the lockdown as was done in the earlier Lockdowns.
When the daily wage earners, farmers, non-government employees are hit worst by the lockdown to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, they are fighting for survival without any financial help from the Government.
The Government needs to extend relaxation hours so that daily wage earners, farmers, non-governmental establishments where strict physical distancing is possible can work. The structures and SOPs for a new normal should be prepared at the earliest so that Manipur can survive and fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even in normal situation, the present season is the worst season known as chingjin matam for the daily wage earners, farmers and for those who are not government salaried persons who don’t have financial savings.
Even when the nation is on Unlock 1, if the Lockdown 5.0 is still enforced in Manipur with maximum restrictions, the majority of the people of Manipur particularly daily wage earners, farmers, and those who are not government salaried persons and don’t have financial savings will be double burdened. In short, in Unlock 1, Lockdown 5.0 is double burden.
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics