Time to consider harsher measures

Imlisanen Jamir

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nagaland is increasing at an alarming rate and the current measures employed by the State Government to contain this second wave of the pandemic seem to be less than effective. There is a growing sense that the current containments measures need to made harsher or at the least more effectively implemented.

Since May 5, most parts of Dimapur and Kohima have been declared as containment zones and orders have been issued as to what activities are allowed and restricted. Despite this, there seems to be lax implementation of the directive on the ground. Non essential movement seems rampant and there are numerous instances of social distancing directives being defied, without legal consequences.

So much so, that the State’s Principal Secretary (Home) R Ramakrishnan issued an order on May 8 noting that “non-essential movement of people is continuing into and from the containment zone to other districts in the state” violating the earlier order.  The Principal Secretary therefore directed the District Task Forces of Kohima and Dimapur to check and restrict non-essential movement of people in the containment zones.

While this is required, non essential movement within containment zones is going on basically unhindered. Most businesses are closed, and that has curbed public movement by some measure. The government has also suspended the entry of rail passengers to the State. However, considering the severity of the situation, these may not be enough.

The government’s order, when read literally, seems to only discourage non essential public movement within these containment zones. This is due to the odd-even rule, which seems to imply that public movement of any nature is allowed as long as their vehicles follow the said traffic rule.

The odd-even rule was employed for large parts of last year when the virus caseload was significantly less severe. Now though, the number of deaths and cases are reaching new highs every single day. The previous week marked Nagaland’s deadliest pandemic week. 18 people lost their lives, 1,087 new cases were detected and the positivity rate was recorded at 50%.

A glimmer of hope is that almost 90% of the States cases are asymptomatic and 316 people recovered last week. To take advantage of this slight glimmer, the State needs to employ all actions, including considering a total lockdown with measures to help lessen economic losses, to break the chain of transmission and ready an embattled health sector.

Comments can be sent to imlisanenjamir@gmail.com

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