Nagaland:Can total lockdown prevent COVID-19 spread?

Heavy traffic in Dimapur town during a busy hour on July 4 last. (Morung file Photo)
Heavy traffic in Dimapur town during a busy hour on July 4 last. (Morung file Photo)

Dimapur citizens share views on COVID-19, total lockdown and suggestions to tackle the pandemic more effectively

Morung Express News
Dimapur | July 23

Even as the District Task Force (DTF) of Kohima decided to impose total lockdown in the state capital for a week (July 25 to 31), the DTF Dimapur has opted for the existing partial lockdown with slight modifications from July 26 to August 2.

With a surge in detection of COVID-19 positive cases in wards and colonies in both Kohima and Dimapur districts, the high powered committee on COVID-19 headed by the Chief Minister had on Wednesday, empowered the DTFs of both Kohima and Dimapur to decide on whether to impose total lockdown in their respective districts.

The Morung Express contacted a number of citizens in Dimapur representing a cross section of society to get their views on the current pandemic and share whether they prefer total lockdown for at least as couple of weeks or to continue with the present partial lockdown arrangement, and suggestions on how to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively.

‘Lockdown will not stop the spread’
“I am not for lockdown. It slows down the spread but will not stop it. More people will die because of the lockdown than due to COVID. Community transmission is impossible to stop,” stated Dr Sedevi Angami, director CIHSR.

He said that no country in the world has been able to do it yet. Even the most disciplined countries like Japan could not, so we can never prevent it. “We can only reduce the speed of spread and also find ways to support the community,” he stated.

‘Situation demands for immediate total lockdown’
According to K Temjen Jamir, Editor, Tir Yimyim, community transmission is starting with banking and policing communities. He felt that it is more apprehensive because these two communities are most interactive with all the people irrespective of geographical and social limitations. 

“Yes, situation becomes more alarming with cases of death and serious patients in the COVID hospitals. Hence, situation demands for immediate total lockdown at least for a week and thereafter, continue the existing arrangement. Common daily and weekly market must be closed and encourage local market in different localities,” he observed. 

Door to door COVID-19 test campaign needed
Jamir suggested that in order to ensure effective prevention of the virus, government must take immediate initiative for door to door COVID-19 test campaign instead of charging for test in public hospitals. Charging public for Covid-19 test will be counter-productive and suicidal for entire human community in Nagaland. “It is like putting the cart before the horse.” 

He also added that the interstate movement should be extensively checked, not only through check gates but from porous areas along the railway tracks.

‘We must fight it together’ 
V Shikuto Achumi, Vice President of DCCI believes that community transmission is just on the verge of starting in Dimapur. “Forget about the general public, look at the returnees who are all cramped up in their QCs with no social distancing,” he lamented while adding that the need of the hour is that the business community as well as the citizens should be vigilant and work jointly towards overcoming the pandemic.

He also maintained that it is a common issue and we must fight it together. “Government department alone cannot do it for us. Churches, business community, tribal bodies, NGOs etc must all consciously join hands together and fight this pandemic together and save Dimapur.”

‘Quick processional assessments’ vital 
For Chubala Shilu “it appears like Dimapur is inching towards community spread of COVID-19 though and people are rightly getting apprehensive.”

Shilu, who is a government employee, felt that a total lockdown period should be enforced. The District administration along with the medical department should take the call after taking informed and quick processional assessments of ground realities. 

She worries that if total lockdown is not implemented, the movement of general public would continue and people everywhere would throw all cautions to the winds and that’s when community spreads would be eminent. “SOP should not be flouted at any cost,” she asserted. 

Total lockdown –an effective measure
“I believe it (community transmission) has started. Total lockdown would prove to be an effective measure. It will help contain the problem. No doubt, it will give rise to many other problems especially in the economy but it is the need of the hour. So everyone has to cooperate,” stated Nelie Kath, Principal, Greenwood School. 

While observing that whatever policies have been implemented by the Government to contain the spread of the virus is good enough, Kath said “The only thing lacking, seems to me, is the cooperation of the some public.”

‘There is lack of proper information’
A businessman by profession, A. Rahman disagreed that community spread has started; however, he said that if proper SOPs are not maintained then there is the risk of community transmission.

On the lack of information, Rahman stated that a fear psychosis has been created in the minds of the citizens and therefore, proper information should be disseminated, especially to the illiterate section of society.

He suggested that the present lockdown system be partially modified to accommodate more business hours so as to give the citizens more time for shopping. Presently, due to heavy rush for shopping between 9:00am-2:00pm, the very concept of social distancing/lockdown is defeated. Footpath shopping should be totally stopped as these are seen to be hotspots for crowding, he recommended.  

‘Community resources should be actively directed towards fighting the pandemic’
“Of course transmission outside QCs and COVID-19 hospitals is inevitable and this is a global phenomenon. But that does not mean we have to give way to panic and resort to drastic measures like total lockdown. Besides crippling all economic activities, functioning of government and other daily essential duties, total lockdown would only spread more panic and negativity amongst citizens,” stated another local entrepreneur. 

On the other hand, the entrepreneur said that detection of positive cases outside QCs and hospitals, should serve as a reminder for citizens to strictly abide by the laid down guidelines and SOPs like social distancing, wearing masks etc. 
“Our community resources and positive energies should not be rendered immobile by total lockdown but actively directed towards fighting the pandemic,” said the entrepreneur.