Editorial

To relax or not

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/11/2020 12:54:37 PM IST

 For a country of 130 crore people and with around 70,000 COVID-19 cases, India appears to have managed to contain the pandemic. In other countries with smaller population such as the USA which has around 33 crore people, the number of COVID-19 cases till May 11 was around 13 lakh. The statistics is certainly a point to feel elated about and obviously, due credit has been given to prime minister Narendra Modi for taking the bold step of announcing the nationwide lockdown on March 24. It was extended from May 3 to May 17 and now the third extension with more relaxations is also expected beyond May 17. The first lockdown announced on March 24 was taken unilaterally and almost all states were caught unprepared for the long haul. The lockdown was extended from May 3 to May 17 and even now, a majority of states are demanding that the lockdown be extended beyond May 17. If the number of COVID-19 case in India is still around 70,000 or below one lakh for a population of 130 crore, it also draws attention on the need to have a much higher testing done. When the nationwide lockdown was imposed on 25 March, India was conducting 539 tests per million people and ranked 52nd among countries in terms of the testing rates. Since then, test numbers have risen 47-fold even as case numbers have risen more than a hundred times, with India now conducting 758 tests per million, making it the 24th ranked country in terms of tests per million. One aspect of the current battle against COVID-19 is the stand or claim of the centre that India has not progressed to stage 3 or community transmission of COVID-19. On May 5, even when the total number of nation-wide cases was close to 47,000 the Union Health Minister said that India’s virus spread had not gone to stage three. While there has been no hesitation in declaring local transmission caused by people who have a travel history, the government has been extremely hesitant to admit community transmission. The reluctance is surprising given that the total cases reported so far is around 70,000 and the nature of spread is through droplet transmission and contact with contaminated surfaces. In contrast, is the U.S. On February 26, when the total number of cases was just 60, it confirmed community spread following the detection in California of the first case with no travel history or contact with a known positive case. One reason why India refused to confirm community spread early on could be the compulsion to expand testing when the country did not have the capacity to test huge numbers each day. However, there is no reason now to continue being in denial, as that erodes public trust in the government. There are indications of community transmissions in 36 districts across 15 states but still the Centre is reluctant to openly admit it. Renowned virologist and former Professor of Virology, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, Dr T Jacob John has urged upon the Centre and state governments to acknowledge community transmission and implement strict measures, if the virus is to be contained. The biggest test for Nagaland will be on May 13 when several thousand stranded people return to the state. Nagaland should continue with strict containment and mitigation measures, acting on the assumption that the virus could appear if not now then in another month or two when it resurges in a second wave of infection. 

 

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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