Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lockdown returns

No one imagined that after a year the coronavirus will unleash itself with a fury never known before. The scenes in different Indian cities are so unsettling that it brings one to tears. The enormity of human tragedy is simply indescribable. People are dying in the most miserable ways. Hard is to watch the news coverage at different hospitals. The health system is not close to crumbling, it seems it has already collapsed. Not to talk of poor and marginalized, even the rich and influential are not getting a bed in any hospital. The life of any person is valuable, and there is no distinction between a rich and a poor in terms of the value of life, but when even rich people fail to get treated it displays the scale of crisis. Here in Nagaland we are also witnessing a steep rise in the COVID cases since mid-April. The COVID-19 case graph in Nagaland has moved sharply upwards after remaining flat for over three months. The situation is especially dire in commercial capital Dimapur and State capital Kohima, which accounts for over 80% of the daily COVID-19 cases in the State. In fact Dimapur is accounting for over 70% of the daily positive cases in the State, with positivity rate among one of the highest in the country at 50%. So the State Government had no option but to announce total lockdown in the State, albeit somewhat late, to break the chain of transmission. The total lockdown became necessary because the spread of virus could not be contained. The important thing was to ensure that no one contribute to any spike that is expected in the coming days. In fact, the Government had delayed in declaring total lockdown in the State for quite some time considering the economic condition of majority of our people. We know how our people suffered during last year’s lockdown. We have seen how the effects of job loss and diminished economy in last year’s lockdown led to psychological collapse of many families. It is unfortunate that our people quickly forgot how hard we suffered during last year’s lockdown in the wake of the relaxation of guidelines since last winter. Masses attended social events, including marriages, routinely. All COVID-19 prevention guidelines and SOPs were run roughshod. No social distancing and the use of masks were observed. And the result is in front of us. Today our negligence in adhering to guidelines has taken us back to square one, with another lockdown staring at us in two days time. The good news is that unlike last year, the lockdown this year has been announced two days ahead giving the opportunity for people to store up essentials. It also solves the problem of stranded migrant labourers in different parts of the State as was experienced in the last lockdown. It was a huge problem last time as the migrant labourers were left in the middle of nowhere, without work, no place to stay, and no means of transport to travel back to their native places. On the issue of essential commodities, our people are generally known for storing good amounts of rice and other essential commodities in the past. But in today’s age, this is not the case. There are a huge number of families who can’t afford to buy things in bulk. Besides as observed during last year’s lockdown, there are certain things that disappear from the markets immediately, as the more well off people store more than required quantities of these goods. Now, given these factors the administration must plan to make essential goods available to all in ways that don’t defeat the overall purpose of lockdown. There can be many ways of doing that, some of which have already been announced, like opening of vegetable, fish/meat vendors, milk booths, bakeries, local grocery stores, hardware, electrical and electronic shops including those that sell animal feed shops for public purchase from 6 am to 12 Noon daily in consultation with respective colony/ward authorities. During the lockdown, if there are crisis of food shortage it would create a chaotic situation compounding our problems.