Saturday, May 8, 2021

New restrictions

For some weeks now, we have started talking seriously about another wave of the Covid pandemic. In India, the statistics show a steep rise in the cases of infected people. The figures of last few days are very alarming. The result of this is that governments have again started contemplating restrictions so that contact among people is reduced. There are night curfews announced at places, while as many areas of activity have again been shut down. In Nagaland we have had a particularly unsettling news coming from some schools. The detection of Covid-19 cases in some schools in Mokokchung, endangering students, teachers, and non-teaching staff have compelled the authorities to temporarily close schools in Mokokchung town and some neighbouring villages. This is really disheartening. The opening up of schools was done on an experimental basis, and in a very calibrated manner. The government authorities and the management of schools did try to strike a balance between the two contrary demands. On the one hand there was a concern about the health of the students. On the other, parents and students wanted to see the gates opened so that the normal schooling was given a chance. All precautions were taken, but as is the nature of the problem, this virus is difficult to be stopped once people gather at a place. So it came as no surprise that the state government promptly issued revised SoPs imposing curbs to prevent the spread of the virus in the state. In the revised SoPs, among others, social, academic, entertainment, cultural, political and religious functions and gatherings have been permitted outside the containment zones, but shall be limited to 50% of the seating capacity, or 200 persons, whichever is lower, and with wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, and provision of thermal screening and use of hand wash or sanitizer, being mandatory. Earlier on March 19 with the improvement in the Covid-19 situation in the state, the government had permitted functioning of the same in full capacities. The state High Powered Committee on Covid-19 is also expected to impose further restriction after assessing the Covid situation in the next few days. The HPC is also likely to take a call on the functioning of schools and transports in few days from now. “With the impending second wave of COVID-19 situation, the government will be enforcing stricter rules to curb the spread of the virus,” government spokesman Mmhonlumo Kikon had told the media on April 16. On the possible lockdown, he had said it will depend on the situation and spike in the number of cases. So now that restrictions are back, we need not panic, in the first instance. The sane and the sensible response is to take the precautions that we now know for a year or more. The wearing of a mask, washing hands frequently, and ensuring social distance is the golden set of rules that can help us contain this fresh upsurge. Here it is quite disheartening to observe that our people are behaving as if we never had a thing like corona virus that still lives amidst us. Our interactions are just like pre-Covid times. We gather the same way, and refuse even to maintain a distance. We travel in public transport without wearing a mask. It is time we start getting serious about this crisis. Covid is still here, and the virus is travelling from person to person the same way as it was in the earlier days. Without inviting a bigger disruption in normal life, we must start following the SoPs seriously. It doesn’t take much to maintain distance, avoid unnecessary crowding, washing hands and wearing masks. We all know that a lockdown like thing is not affordable given the state of economy, so people must ensure, on their own, that they don’t become carriers of this virus. It is for the people to decide what kind of situation they want for themselves up ahead. Since vaccination is already going on, we need to be patient and careful for some more time. These are very crucial days, and our attitude would largely decide the future course of this pandemic.