Thursday, November 30, 2023

Observe guidelines

Even as the number of COVID-19 cases sees a substantial spike daily in our state, rules and guidelines continue to be willfully flouted by some section of the populace. This week, Nagaland is reporting over 200 positive cases daily, and today (May 7) it was 309, out of which 200 cases are in Dimapur alone. Unfortunately some of our people appear to have still not fully internalized the gravity of the situation. Despite such grim figures, some people are not following the SOPs, perhaps due to ignorance or total indifference to human life. People continue to lead their lives as usual and take to the streets for work, entertainment and engagements in social gatherings. While the consequences of such ignorance can be dangerous for all, yet a lot of people in the state, particularly in Dimapur, are simply refusing to change their attitude. Despite knowing the grave consequences of their neglecting behaviour, people go to get a haircut, head to relatives’ places, gather at shop fronts or organize family functions and parties in contravention of the local quarantine rules. The collective consequences of the actions we take at the moment are even more momentous. If we fail to flatten the curve – if the coronavirus continues to spread at such great speed that the number of patients requiring medical care overwhelms the capacity of our healthcare systems – doctors and nurses will need to make unfathomable decisions about whom to save and whom not. Truth often takes a backseat. Today there are still so many people finding it difficult to act in accordance with the minimal demands morality makes of them in this extraordinary emergency. For those of us who have spent the past weeks obsessed about every latest headline regarding the evolution of the crisis, it is easy to forget that many of our fellow people simply don’t follow the news with the same regularity. People crowding into public places, hanging out in big groups, then, may simply fail to realize the severity of the pandemic. And those refusing to stay home may not know the victims of their actions, even if they are geographically proximate, and might never find out about the terrible consequences of what they did and what they are about to. The need is for all of us to think logically and mould our behavior accordingly. We need to understand the message of the virus and take necessary measures to sideline the risks. The advisories need to be followed in letter and spirit. This is time to follow social distancing in as strict a manner as possible. The usual and routine human interactions need to be suspended for some time. By not restricting ourselves to our homes we are risking not just our own life, but the life of our family members and others. If the government has taken certain decisions, people need to cooperate. We need to think about this situation as total emergency. It is not meant to create panic, but to remind that we are faced with a real threat. What compound the problem for us is the weak healthcare system, and a very thin economy of an average household. For the government, it is important to go beyond announcements, and use its machinery to ensure strict compliance to SOPs. Yes, our moral instincts have not been honed to guide us well in this extraordinary crisis. All of us are having trouble adjusting again to a world in which leaving our own house for frivolous reasons carries the risk of manslaughter. This helps to explain why so many people have been ignoring public health advice. But an explanation is not an excuse. And right now, seemingly innocuous activities are the equivalent of raising a revolver and then pulling the trigger. So yes, it might feel perfectly normal to flout the call for social distancing every now and then. But by following our instincts rather than our reason, we are putting ourselves, our family members, our friends and our neighbours equally at risk. And that is simply unforgivable.