Ramp up capacity, not lockdown 

Veroli Zhimo

Even as State Government extended statewide lockdown till August 31, many parts of the state remain under lockdowns of varying intensity, imposed by their respective district administrations.

The Union government’s monthly unlocking guidelines - most recently Unlock 3.0, has gone for a toss here.

Lately, there have been multiple arguments that there can be no more excuses for continuing with lockdowns after experiencing the massive economic damage they have created.

The economic argument against lockdown is overwhelming. Each successive lockdown has been accompanied by progressively dire conditions for those engaged in trade and commerce of ‘non-essential goods’ and those in the informal sector.

To top it off, the recent spurt in cases cast doubts on the epidemiological basis for longer duration of lockdowns. Even the State’s healthcare infrastructure has been stretched to the limit despite lockdowns and restrictions on movement.

The onus for economic revival lies with the government.

But the proponents for turning focus back on business sentiment are few in the State capital. The State Government is mostly looking at the political backlash of an uncontrolled outbreak, not the devastating economic toll on livelihoods.

The prescription of lockdown is more an apology for poor state capacity than a willingness to tackle the pandemic head-on.

Considering the tremendous spike in cases (2,499 as of August 5) even from those outside controlled government facilities, contact tracing for a large number of infection cases would become increasingly difficult.

Further, the weekly bulletin released by the State’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), Department of Health & Family Welfare, on August 1, tipped the recovery rate at 37.6%, almost 6 percentage points lower than the previous week’s analysis.

However, as of August 5, Nagaland's recovery rate has further decreased to 26.37%.

In this regard, it would augur well for the State Government to recognise the reality that it has neither healthcare and policing capacity nor economic cushion to ‘take it easy,’ be it continuing lockdowns or making a decisive shift in the healthcare strategy to testing and treating.

For this to happen, we need reliable data to map the spread of the disease, increase our testing capacity and ramp up both quality and quantity of hospital and treatment facilities. 

Along with this, the government’s Core Group for Economic Affairs which was formed in May, should have an action plan ready to revive the economy.

The State has already missed the bus for the Centre’s August national unlocking plans but can it afford to miss the next?

Feedback and comments can be send to vzhimolimi@gmail.com  


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