Editorial

Defying definition

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/20/2020 12:16:13 PM IST

 Meghalaya has been witnessing slow but gradual rise in COVID cases with 1506 confirmed cases as on August 20,2020. The first COVID case on March 22 and by April, six more were recorded as confirmed. COVID-19 cases showed marginal rise with 14 cases in May but it more than tripled to 45 in June. By July COVID-19 cases jumped over 16 times to 738 and this had set alarm bells ringing. So far, the government of Meghalaya had been quite proud, about the few numbers as compared with other states(except Sikkim). By August 20,2020 the number had more than doubled at 1598 COVID-19 cases. It was a big blow on the complacency that existed in the state, particularly its ruling politicians. With cases rising and on August 19, the Director Meghalaya health department(MI) Dr.Aman War hinted that Shillong was heading towards community spread of COVID-19. The state’s minister of health and family welfare Alexander Laloo Hek also expressed concern about the situation terming it “not good”. Hek said random testing was being undertaken to check the spread in the state and would continue when deemed necessary. A community transmission takes place when the virus spreads in such a way that the source of its infection is not known. One can catch an infection from other people- at work or while out shopping- and from people who “probably don’t think” they have it. Despite recording only 1598 COVID-19 cases, Meghalaya’s health department is alarmed. This stems from reports that in several cases, that those infected could not identify the source of infection. Even in Assam, it may be recalled that on July 6,2020 Assam health minister Dr.Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that Assam’s main city of Guwahati has entered a “real pandemic phase” with community transmission being witnessed. In just eleven days, the coronavirus positive cases in the Kamrup (Metro) district jumped to 2,741 from a mere 63, he pointed out. Even in Manipur, where the COVID-19 tally is 4876, Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker Y Khemchand Singh had earlier claimed that there was a community transmission of Covid-19 in Manipur. Though the Manipur health department has not officially admitted it, yet the department has gone on war footing on contact tracing as there were some reports of people getting infected without travel history or known sources of contact. In sharp contrast, Nagaland recorded sharp spike in COVID-19 cases. From ‘Nil’ in April, to three from May 25(through returnees), then 460 in June(multiplying by around 150 times), and thrice the number to 1692 in July and now more than double as on August 20 with 3583 cases. Yet the state health authorities steadfastly refuse even to entertain the view that the virus is being spread through local community transmission, despite several who were infected not having travel history nor infection from known sources. The denial-mode is probably a strategy adopted from the Centre and defying the very interpretation of community transmission despite mounting evidence. Some leading experts like former director AIIMS Dr MC Mishra, virologist Shahid Jameel, lung surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar and epidemiologist Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil have reiterated that the virus was spreading among population groups and localities that have little to do with travel or contact with travellers. Officials in Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur are considering it for the sake and safety of their people and not denying it for the image or prestige of their governments.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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