Thursday, May 6, 2021

Be careful

We know that our health sector was already under tremendous pressure ever since the COVID-19 emergency began. Last year when the pandemic reached us, no one exactly knew what to do, and where to get the material and human resource from. Medical knowledge about virus and plague is something different. The actual meeting of the challenge at the ground level was a completely different ball game. But in a firefighting mood the health system flung into action and tried to put things in place. A year later, what still haunts us all is whether our health sector is now ready to manage the growing number of COVID-19 positive cases. The number of COVID-19 cases in the state is spiraling out of control for more than two weeks now, with the State reporting at least over a 100 cases daily. On Friday, the number of new Covid infection was 226 – with Dimapur reporting the bulk at 137 cases, Kohima – 74, Tuensang – 10, Wokha – 2 and one each in Mon, Peren and Zunheboto. Such daily spike must set the alarm bells ringing, in the face of a collapsing healthcare system. Can our hospitals and the testing facilities accommodate this growing number of patients? In this situation if anything goes wrong, we will actually waste all the hard work and sacrifices made till now. So it is a very tough time for the people at the helm, and also a deep worry for the people at large. If our resources to fight Covid-19 are spreading too thin, that is a problem. If the numbers mount at this speed, our systems are bound to collapse. One can only hope that we succeed in bringing down the number of affected people, and simultaneously scale up our preparedness. Now who could have believed that since the start of this year till early April the number of Covid cases detected in the state daily was mostly in single digit and the active cases had fallen to double digits with recovery rate over 98 percent. But the number of infection in just the last 14 days is over a 1000 now. This speed, which is mindboggling, has shocked all the stake holders. The result is that patients are dying, with no ICU beds available, despite most hospitals being converted into COVID units. Why did this unexpected resurgence happen? It is very clear that after a battle of over one year, a fatigue has set in at all levels. Opportunities were missed. Instead of going all out with the facilities of testing, tracking and contact tracing to get rid of the virus, the systems became lax. The advisories and decisions were taken without consulting the epidemiologists and experts. The SOPs which had been prepared were put aside and decisions to re-open all activities were taken without consulting the relevant authorities. The public which was forced to stay at home and venture out only with multiple precautions was also eager to start normalcy once again. Everybody wanted to get back to their occupations. This COVID-19 fatigue is not peculiar to us alone but has been seen in other states of the country. The availability of the vaccine in January this year built up the sagging morale of our people. But it also gave rise to gross complacency, with people who got vaccinated inaptly presuming themselves to be Covid-resistant and started ignoring all precautions, thereby putting their lives and others to great risk. The result of this complacency is in front of us today. The need now is for all of us to think logically and mould our behavior accordingly. We need to understand the message of this deadly virus and to take necessary measures to sideline the risks. The advisories need to be followed in letter and spirit to ensure benefit of humanity as a whole. The discussions should be replaced by practical measures to take the struggle to the pragmatic end. It is hoped that we all work together to face this wave and cooperate with the authorities who have finally conceded to the presence of this alarming 2nd wave. The latest scientific fact that COVID-19 is an airborne transmission is also really scary news. Who knows we may be in for a third wave soon?