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Covid distress mounting in Manipur

Corona Virus Second Wave in Manipur: Why is it so Devastating?

Covid-19’s second wave is wreaking havoc in Manipur, as it has in other parts of India and around the world. As evidenced by recent events, it can be said that the state’s healthcare system has completely collapsed. Indeed, Manipur is now in the grip of a public health emergency, with most hospitals unable to accept new patients because nearly all available beds are already full. Based on the severity of the new virus strain and our level of preparedness, both at the community and government levels, it is clear that we will have a difficult time bending the curve of rising viral infection and death rates. This article will investigate the relationship between the second wave’s severe impact on us and the state’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 during the first wave and the lull period.


Our state’s over-reliance on the central government’s decision in fighting Covid-19 is the most erroneous strategy it has pursued since its inception. There were no localized responses tailored to our strengths and weaknesses. To be more specific, our political leaders and bureaucrats copied Delhi’s policies and pasted them onto our situation without considering whether or not they are consistent with our material conditions. Even in the current critical case of the second wave, we are continuing the same trend of copying Delhi’s policies and directives and applying them to our local situation without modification, even though we are losing more than 10 people every day.


Here’s a question worth asking that the state may not want to answer: what concrete steps had the state taken to forward planning, anticipating a resurfacing of the virus after the first wave? When the pandemic first broke out, several virologists and pandemic experts studying the nature of the pandemic firmly stated the importance of focusing on primary level fighting rather than secondary and tertiary level fighting. Because they recognized that following Covid-19 appropriate behavior such as proper masking, maintaining physical distance, and limiting unnecessary human movement is more crucial than establishing more quarantine centers or having ventilator-equipped Covid beds. They, however, did not intend to diminish the role of quarantine centers or the importance of ventilators in combating Covid-19 but rather to emphasize breaking the chain of transmission while continuing to carry out precautionary and curative measures at the secondary and tertiary levels of the fight. From an economic standpoint, they were correct once more, as fighting at the primary level is less expensive than fighting at the secondary and tertiary levels.


If we assess the extent to which the Covid second wave has affected our society, as well as the extremely limited financial and institutional resources available to the state, we will see multiple reasons to use the same mode of fighting as suggested by experts during the first wave, which was not properly implemented at the time. As a result, it is critical to ensure that the fight is not only carried out through messages broadcast on television, radio, and other media messages, but also through action. If measured in terms of fatalities, the second wave in Manipur is nothing short of a war, and it must be fought as such, with all available means and resources.


In this regard, a senior Kanglei journalist recently stated correctly that if necessary, crowd funding could be used. He emphasized the importance of pooling resources and dedicating them solely to the fight against the virus. He even proposed using local area funds from MLAs to combat the pandemic. Using the local area fund to fight Covid, in my opinion, is a more rational and correct decision for the state during this pandemic than building a local library or black-topping village roads.


Here’s a question: couldn’t we have done anything to prevent this situation from occurring in the first place?  Indeed, during the lull before the second wave, the government should have taken up a slew of preventive measures. We wonder if the government did not recognize the need for these measures to be put in place prior to the occurrence of such a situation. The truth is that state logistics, such as emergency service referral processes and streamlining mechanisms, required improvement. However, we did not see anything concrete being taken up by the state on this front during the lull time.


Our people were equally irresponsible at the same time; they did not lag behind on this front either. They took part in elections, thabal chongba, entertainments, religious festivals, and so on. All of these factors contributed to viral mutation, multiplication, and spread. Upper echelons of health workers were preoccupied with pleasing lawmakers while sitting on a ticking time bomb, with no regard for the looming danger. They simply copied and pasted Delhi’s order to lower-level healthcare staff who were already exhausted and demoralized. They didn’t seem to have the guts to question anything. They were only concerned with their selfish personal motives and vying for better positions in the government set-up. They made the lower health care workers who were doing the actual field work more demoralized.


Our academics and media, with the exception of a few, never questioned the policies, governments, and bureaucrats.  Many spewed nonsenses like herd immunity, which is highly unethical. Now we are short of everything, vaccines, medicines, medicine-oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, and so on. As a result, we are now in a position where we cannot afford total lockdown, which is the only way to cut transmission due to a lack of basic social network to support our vast lower portion of the social pyramid, the people.


Now, community effort is of the utmost importance. Individual should discipline themselves and rigorously follow masking and distancing. Leikai clubs must honestly start donation drives in cash and kind for helping those in need. We need real honest activities, not superficial ones connected with the politicians or wannabe politicians. Of course, help must be taken from the politicians, but in a transparent way. The government and bureaucrats should be put under pressure to perform to the best of their abilities. The Media, intellectuals and community level pressure, all must be used.

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