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Manipur’s COVID Cases Per Million Population Go Past World Average, A New Strategy To Fight The Virus Needed

The transmission of COVID-19 in Manipur is surging like wildfire. Though the State Government has not declared community transmission officially yet, the Novel Corona Virus 2019 has spread amongst the community in Manipur. The number of cases per one million people for Manipur is 5,035 which is higher than the worldwide average of 5,017 per one million.

The highest ever COVID-19 cases of 337 and 5 deaths in a single day was reported on October 16 in the state. With this the total number of positive cases has reached 14,715 with 11,245 having recovered, and 3,361 cases active and being treated in isolation at home, Covid Care Centres and hospitals. Out of the 3,361 active cases, 343 belong to the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) while 3,018 are from the general population, of which 369 are in home Isolation. The total number of local people infected by COVID-19 has reached 9,620, and the total number of direct COVID-19 deaths reached 109 as on October 16.

The total number of persons screened till date (October 16) at Mao Gate, Jiribam, Jiribam (train arrivals), Imphal Airport and other places stands at 4,09,057.

The total number of test results received from VRDL of JNIMS, VRDL of RIMS, STDC/IRL Imphal, District Hospital Senapati, District Hospital Tamenglong, District Hospital Ukhrul, Babina Diagnostics, Raj Medicity, Shija Hospital, MCCHRC, Other Private Hospitals and NIV Pune/GMCH till date (October 16) is 3,13,601 out of which 1,38,627 are Antigen Tests while the remaining are either RTPCR Test or TrueNat Test.

Unfortunately, the total number of positive cases in the last 16 days, i.e. from October 1 to 16 is very high as expected and predicted by many public health experts earlier and has reached 3,732.

When the COVID-19 lockdown was first imposed across the country and in Manipur and during the months of April and May, the positive cases in the state were very low, averaging 10-15 cases per day. But during mid-July the positive cases in the state increased to 50 cases per day and again after the relaxation of lockdown the numbers had jumped to 100-150 cases per day.

However, there were only five deaths and 2,621 positive cases and 931 active cases till July 31.

Presently, the state is witnessing around 300 positive cases per day. The Government of Manipur and Department of Health Services are reported to be trying to get a firm grip on the situation and control the rising trend of the contagion in the state.

The steps so far taken by the State Government to tackle the surging situation of COVID-19 pertain to only passing on stern instructions to the police for enforcement of punishment policies to citizens for violation of the SOP and periodic guidelines; and planning to utilise Imphal Hotel as Covid Hospital and deputing two Commissioners (IAS Officers) to RIMS and JNIMS to monitor the medical treatment being given to the patients by the doctors and paramedics.

Reports say that Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, V Vumlunmang has informed that the state government and health department will be focused on the containment zones to tackle the surging wave of COVID-19 cases in the state. In fact, COVID-19-appropriate behaviour is to be respected and followed by everyone, and this is what both the government and public have to focus on.

Vumlunmang informed that Manipur is in the green box fortunately as of now and said that the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of Manipur is 4.5-4.6 percent and Mortality Rate (MR) is 0.7 percent. In comparison, the TPR in India is 7.5 percent and MR is 1.5 percent. Manipur is in a very good condition relative to the national figure.

However, the rate of COVID-19 positive cases in Manipur is at par with India and the world, according to the figures available from Google News on October 15. The number of cases per one million people for Manipur is 5,035 which is higher than the worldwide figure of 5,017 per one million, against India’s 5,417 per one million.

According to Vumlunmang, the government is closely focused on expanding the Covid Care Centre (CCC) capacity since the chances of contracting the disease has now increased. He said that the lockdown scenario has gone, India government has now adopted the unlock scenario and therefore people have to work together and see what is the suitable strategy for achieving the overall best scenario.

The current strategy of the state government and health department in the unlock scenario is expanding capacity to make enough beds available.

Recently, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren had visited Khuman Lampak for setting up a new Covid Care Centre which is now functioning fully.

Principal Secretary Vumlunmang said that the authorities of JNIMS and RIMS have identified COVID-19 treatment blocks at their respective hospitals and the department is monitoring works to ensure that enough beds are available in these two hospitals for the symptomatic positive patients.

He further told mediapersons on October 16 that with the rise in COVID-19 prevalence, government and private hospitals should be ready to look after the COVID-19 patients. The private hospitals are also setting up separate rooms for positive patients to ensure access to COVID-19 treatment facilities. There are effective services in hospitals for pregnant women who are COVID-19 positive, including for needs of operation and care, he said.

However, pertinent questions crop up here – Without opening the government hospitals to the non-Covid patients, will the fight against COVID-19 be successful? What preparations have been forthcoming from the State Government in the last 6 months of lockdown to fight the COIVD-19 pandemic?

According to epidemiologists, it is said that the COVID-19 will continue to exist amongst us. We have to live with COVID-19. But we are failing in living with the virus. We have to strictly follow the SOP particularly by wearing face mask in public, maintaining physical distance of 6 feet and washing hands frequently to contain the virus and by avoiding crowded places and public interaction; and with Trace, Test and Treat.

Regarding when the pandemic will come to an end, Dr Brogen Akoijam, Professor of Community Medicine and Dean of Academics of RIMS told FPSJ Review that according to experts the pandemic will continue to infect till there is herd immunity. Herd immunity may be reached by natural infection of 60-70% of the population or by vaccination. Herd immunity will stabilise the pandemic.

On a query how the situation arising from surge in COVID-19 in Manipur could be faced, Dr. Brogen Akoijam said, “The overarching objective of fighting COVID-19 should be to prevent the excess deaths of both Covid and non-Covid patients. Three strategies have to be adopted to achieve the objective of preventing excess deaths.

“The fundamental and unavoidable strategy is to equip the hospitals fully for both Covid and non-Covid patients. Also the rate of infection should be staggered by doing Trace, Test, Treat properly. The third and most important strategy is to provide essential health care services to the general population including vaccinations for children. Reverse quarantine i.e. protection of vulnerable people and co-morbid patients from COVID-19 is needed in this situation,” Dr. Brogen stressed.

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