Sunday, June 20, 2021


For a population of around 20 lakhs, Nagaland’s COVID-19 cases of over 11,000 are frightening. In terms of percentage, this may be just a very minuscule fraction but because the curve is not flattening, the threat of an increase in infection is very real. To be sure, we will see increase and decrease in numbers of infection and recoveries ~ and death ~ every day but the painful fact is our inability to contain the spread in commensuration with our population. So, if we don’t contain the spread of the virus now, even a few days later may lead to our infection rates spiral out of control and increase our death rates. Nobody can miss the urgency of the situation particularly at this time of festivities, when we tend to be reckless and careless. So, how do we contain the spread? No doubt, the concerned Government agencies are totally focused on this issue but implementation of SoPs still continues to be the major road block. So, clearly the Government needs to emphatically concentrate on enhancing its implementation and enforcement strategies and agencies. The Government may feel that it has, and is, doing all it can do possibly to contain the infection rate but perhaps it could now consider what it hasn’t done and/or what could still be done. There is never any end or limit to possibilities but only an end or limit to our willingness to reach out and explore the infinite frontiers of our brain/mind. Now, seeing that majority of COVID infection are concentrated in Dimapur and Kohima and because both have very distinct characteristics in terms of topography, climate, industrial and commercial dissimilarities, different pollution levels, cultures and levels of social interaction, composition of populations and psychological profiles, to name a few, perhaps specific strategies could be considered for these two major cities of the State. Because Dimapur is the gateway to Nagaland, it is more vulnerable but one major factor we are yet to consider seriously is its increasing pollution levels, especially at this time of the year. For one, the dry season is already upon us; secondly, all roads lead to this commercial hub at this time of the year ~ besides, Dimapur is not really an epitome of cleanliness and civic sense. With all activities resumed in the past couple of months, the Government’s dilemma is understandable yet containment remains critical for public health. So, because the Government is seized of all data and information on the COVID situation in Nagaland, perhaps a revisit and re-analyses is called for? Our interior districts are doing much better in terms of infection rates, perhaps a relook at why and how this is so could be studied ~ although there is no comparison between Dimapur and Kohima and the other districts in all aspects. The thing is if we do not contain the virus at Dimapur and Kohima, infection rates are likely to increase in other districts too especially because the traffic from all districts to Dimapur is very heavy during this season. Is it then romanticism to consider expanding trade and commerce to and in our interior districts? Delhi has already declared a 10-hour jail time for those without masks in public ~ a few other States are reportedly considering similar penalty. Is this measure possible in Nagaland? Does our Government have the political will to take stringent measures to save lives of people here? One of our worst traits is the disrespect for law, which hinders our development and progress, every which way. Perhaps, our political, bureaucratic, economic and social elite can set examples? Not an often discoursed issue but the standards set by the upper echelons of society inevitably percolate down to the lower rungs. This is something that could be kept in mind while strategizing on enhancement of implementation and enforcement of containment measures. In any case, there cannot and should not be different COVID SoPs and containment measures for the various strata of society. No one knows when the vaccines will be available to every citizen ergo containment of the virus and infection rates is the only solution. Even then, health experts caution that vaccines alone may not be sufficient or the panacea we pray for. Now, since the Government is leading the fight against the virus from the front, it is obliged to contain the virus and infection rates with renewed vigour ~ and resolutely fight against fatigue to overwhelm it.