In the battle against COVID-19, for more than a month Assam has been confronting the killer virus with commendable success. Unfortunately, over the last few days there has been a sudden spurt in the number of new COVID-19 positive cases in the state.
So far as tracing the source of these cases is concerned, it can clearly be seen that many of them have come to Assam from other states in the last few days. One such source is Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan from where a bus with passengers arrived in Silchar and the other an ambulance that reached Jorhat with a few persons from Mumbai.
Several persons who came from Ajmer have tested COVID-19 positive and likewise three of those who came from Mumbai tested positive. Most surprisingly, one of the drivers of the ambulance also tested positive but on account of sheer dereliction of duty on the part of the authorities, the driver moved out of Jorhat even before the test results came in.
As per media reports, he was finally located at new Jalpaiguri. No one can even remotely guess as to how many persons he might have infected with the killer virus between Jorhat and New Jalpaiguri.
So far as the other new COVID-19 positive cases, mainly in and around Guwahati, are concerned, all travel history or trace history have seemingly come to a naught. Obviously the suspicion arises if the deadly virus may be lurking around somewhere in the vicinity of the city or within the state.
In respect of people entering Assam from other states, the Jorhat and Silchar incidents may just be the beginning of the story. Thousands have already entered the state and even greater number may be on their way.
Considering the movement of people from one state to their home states on a nation-wide basis, it has become abundantly clear over the last one week or so that there has been a sudden rise in the number of new positive cases. For instance, the arrival of loads of people from Maharashtra led to a sudden and steep spurt in the number of positive cases in the Punjab.
The emerging situation in Assam may not be as worse as that of the Punjab. However, the trend or the pattern appears to be same. Hence, the question certainly arises if in the interest of blocking the spread of the killer virus to save lives, whether it may be advisable to stop the ongoing process of movement of people from one state to another across the entire country.
Again, lockdown and social distancing are the paramount mantras in the fight against COVID-19. Countries like Italy, France or Spain initially failed to abide by these mantras mainly due to their lifestyle.
However, fortunately though belatedly, these countries realized the importance of these mantras and finally succeeded in appreciably flattening the COVID-19 graph. On the other hand, having defied aspects like lockdown, the United States is seemingly nose-diving towards a massive death trap under the impact of COVID-19.
Interestingly, although the COVID-19 landscape in Assam is relatively far healthier that many of the states in India, a large section of our people, including educated ones, are yet to appreciate the high importance of lockdown or social distancing.
At the slightest opportunity such people flock to the streets, take to crowding at the market places or simply gather in groups and gossip, to mention just a few unacceptable activities. The directive to come out of home only on emergency or maintenance of social distance and the like simply fall by the wayside.
While the primary objective is to defeat COVID-19 to save lives, Assam and the nation, one feels that Dispur as well as Delhi may take a relook at the newly emerging COVID-19 landscape and apply their wisdom if such movement of people across the country would hold the state(s) and the country in good stead. Dispur may also consider if the lockdown measures could be further tightened and some of the relaxations allowed may be withdrawn.