By Biplab Kr Dey
It has been 15 months since the pandemic began in right earnest in the country and a similar amount of time in the state of Meghalaya as well. While the first wave of the pandemic left many facing acute crisis, it eventually fizzled out by the end of the last year. However of whatever little the world has seen of COVID – 19, one thing that stood out is the resilience of the disease.
Many experts in the state and outside have already begun to call Meghalaya’s current tryst with COVID – 19 as the third wave – one that will majorly affect our children. At last count at least 5000 children have been infected with COVID with over 20 deaths among them – a trend that is likely to continue if we are not careful.
These are the numbers for the state of Meghalaya till the morning of June 25. Meghalaya has tested a total of 6.7 lakh people of whom 46878 have tested positive – a trend of almost 7%. The state has seen 807 deaths with the active case count being 4424. For a small state like ours, the numbers are staggering.
When the second wave of the virus hit the country, most of the bigger states bore the brunt of pandemic, Maharashtra, Kerela, Karnataka being the worst sufferers. The situation for these states however has shown a declining trend. Not so for our state.
Meghalaya has continued showing over 10% infection rate among those tested on most days and the prevailing thought is that the actual numbers could be double what is shown. It would not be unfair to say that one of the most important reasons for it lies with each of us.
The state has been under lockdown ever since the second wave hit but despite the various measures taken by the state, the numbers have continued to pile on.
Social distancing is a myth that most from the state don’t even want to think of. Where there are police checks, law and order is followed. However where the arm of law does not reach, people forget that SOPs have been put in place for their own safety. In the rural belts, look at how the people gather and also how they travel. COVID is a misnomer for them.
People also tend to use the limited time being provided everyday to shop and transact as if there is no tomorrow. For the 5 hours every day, markets literally operate at normal levels – mostly without maintaining SOPs.
Director of Health Services (MI), Dr Aman War has been in the forefront of the war against the pandemic and has been left scratching his head to understand why the numbers just don’t seem to be coming down. It is – as per him – static.
“One of the reasons for the pandemic continuing to play havoc is because people continue to intermingle and don’t follow SOPs,” he said.
He however felt there was a silver lining in this current pall of gloom.
“The situation should be under control by June 30. Our efforts at vaccination are currently on in full swing and this too should be well placed by June 30,” said Dr. War.
Similar thoughts were also echoed by the minister of Health and family welfare, AL Hek.
While the situation for the state has not reached alarming proportions, if residents continue to flout norms set up, we could see an early beginning to the 3rd wave of the pandemic – the one that is expected to severely affect children and infants. The death of 20 children serves as a grim reminder on the perils of taking the pandemic lightly – a price that many are wont to pay.
This is not a war that can be fought alone. Everyone – and that means everyone has to do their bit to ensure we come out of this with the least bit of damage.