COVID-19 made its appearance in Assam about seven weeks ago. Since then for several weeks, with Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma leading from the front in the true spirit of a covid warrior, the COVID-19 landscape in the state appeared to be fully under control.
In fact, in comparison to many other states and the nation as a whole, the state scenario wore an enviably healthier look. However, most unfortunately, since about the fag end of April, the situation on the coronavirus front began turning dramatically for the worse.
Over the last three weeks or so, the COVID-19 landscape in Assam appears to have turned upside down with COVID-19 positive cases seemingly galloping towards the 300 mark and beyond. The emerging scenario across the country seems to be still worse.
A close analysis of the quantum jump registered on the COVID-19 front makes it clear as daylight that the situation in Assam was totally under control so long the lockdown was strictly enforced with minimum of relaxation. The scenario in the rest of India too was by and large fairly under control, though way behind Assam.
Those were the days when movement of people from one part of the country was totally on the hold. However, once the Centre began relaxing this restriction and people began moving from one state to another by bus and trains in swelling numbers, the COVID-19 landscape began taking a frightful turn for the worse with coronavirus positive cases multiplying.
In Assam, as per official data, over a lakh people have entered the state in the last few weeks. The result being that during this period about 200 new COVID-19 positive cases have been detected. Majority of these cases are either returnees to Assam from other states or persons who have come into contact with such returnees. Further, as per official estimate, another twelve lakh people are in the waiting list and are expected to reach home by train in the coming one month. Moreover, with domestic flights to resume soon, the COVID-19 front in the state may be further impacted.
With the economy, both the national and of states like Assam, having hit the nadir, perhaps the Centre thought that it had no option other than withdrawing the lockdown restrictions in quick succession with a view to reviving the devastated economy. Note may be taken of the fact that for more than a year even before COVID-19 made its appearance in China, the national economy as well as that of Assam had been witnessing economic slowdown with accelerating momentum.
With virtually all restrictions, except for educational instutions and the like, being withdrawn, what remains of the lockdown is the night curfew. Again, there is no dearth of locations across Assam where social distancing has been reduced to a crude joke. In fact, Fancy Bazar in Guwahati was one such spot before being ravaged by COVID-19.
As of now, Assam is invaded by COVID-19 being carried into the state through trains and road transport. And for sure it is likely to be a continuous process for a long time to come, taking into note the massive multiplication process involved. The signal sent hitherto by COVID-19 has clearly indicated that the battle against the killer virus may run not only into years but even decades together. The scenario is so weird that it is extremely difficult to hazard a guess on the future COVID-19 landscape.
In the face of COVID-19 invasion which may only intensify in the days ahead, today the people of Assam are helplessly staring at an uncertain future marked by COVID-19 having a field day. And this could be only the beginning of the COVID-19 eclipse over the state. Hence the question arises if we are confronting an era of living with COVID-19 and if many of us are destined to die of it.
Further, had the economic scenario been a normal one, the sufferings might have been a bit lesser for normal common man. Unfortunately, the people are faced with twin terror – COVID-19 threat and mounting financial strangulation amidst economic stagnation. Would it have been wiser for the authorities to continue with the earlier lockdown restrictions for some more time?