Tripura Govt Has To Do More For Fighting Covid Pandemic In The State
By Sagarneel Sinha
Since the last week of May, Tripura has been witnessing continuous rise in Covid-19 cases and the number has already crossed the figure of 5700. State has the second highest number of cases in the northeastern region after Assam.
Not only this, Tripura also has a higher death rate than most of the northeastern states - even more than that of Assam. Death rate of the state per million stands at 7.43 while in Assam, it is 3.65. The death rate in case of the other northeastern states like Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland is less than 3. It means that Tripura's death rate is mostly double than all these above mentioned northeastern states and this should be a big concern.
Chief Minister Biplab Deb recently announced a full lockdown of 3 days - which was later extended to 8 days. It is lifted now. This lockdown was actually expected given the past statements of the government and the situation of the state. However, whether this lockdown worked effectively is a real question. The time for lockdown has gone. This is not the time for lockdown - it is the time for opening up. The state actually opened it up but cases have been rising since then. Importantly, initially Tripura detected 2-3 cases and later the state was declared Coronavirus free. Then, a BSF camp of Ambassa emerged as the hotspot but the situation was still largely under control - because the cases were limited only to the hotspot area.
But, the situation started deteriorating from the last week of May - when citizens of the state staying in other states started to arrive. This means that the state's performance was good during the period of lockdown - but it couldn't handle the situation during the unlock period.
The state government is also doing a door to door survey. However, there are many questions. Will this survey help in flattening the curve? Already, there have been reports that in some tribal hamlets the survey teams aren't allowed to enter - as these villagers wrongly believe that they are immune to the virus. According to these villagers, "the virus is an urban disease."
This shows how a section of people in Tripura aren't much aware about the harmful effects of the virus. Not only this, people of the state didn't pay much importance to the recent 8 days lockdown - means they are not that serious about the virus. In such a situation, success of the door to door survey remains a question - as a large section of people aren't that aware of the virus or just don't want to care about it. Such a situation demands awareness about the virus in the state.
It's not that the government did nothing to spread the awareness drive in the state. Biplab Deb himself visited the different parts of the state to enquire about the state. However, the present situation points out that more awareness drive in the state is needed. Otherwise, the results of the door to door survey will be ineffective - as still in some remote areas, the villagers aren't eager to take part in the survey. So, if a chunk of people won't participate in the survey, how can it be termed as effective? Lack of education regarding the virus is coming on the way.
When it comes to testing per million, Tripura is still doing good. It ranks 6th in the entire country and is second in the northeastern region - only after Arunachal Pradesh. The government repeatedly cites this high rate of testing per million - but, there can be no complacency. The reason is because Tripura has more Corona cases than Arunachal Pradesh and the highest death rate in the region. But, still it is testing less than Arunachal Pradesh. The positivity rate per testing in case of Tripura is 3% - means it's performance is good given the fact that the state has one of the highest testing rates per million. Here again, Arunachal with less number of cases is doing well than Tripura. It's positivity rate per testing is 1.9%. (This data is based on The Hindu's Covid-19 tracker).
Particularly, in case of Tripura, it has to do more testing. The present rise of cases is actually because of the mistake committed by the state government initially by randomly conducting testing of the arriving people in the state based on the ratio of 1:5. Not only this, the government sent most of them to home quarantine - despite the fact that they came from hotspot states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The government should have kept them in the quarantine centres. Apart from this, there were local reports of guidelines not properly being maintained in some quarantine centres.
The government needs correct strategies - and lockdown is not of one of those. After all, the state can't go for lockdown after some period repeatedly. It will mostly affect the economically marginalised people. Also, the other people - particularly the business class, which will only harm the state's economy. There should be other strategies. The areas with a high number of cases should be placed under containment zones - already there are 190 such zones. They need to be strictly monitored. Government has to ensure that guidelines are properly followed in the quarantine centres. Particularly, the government needs to really concentrate on contact tracing. Already, people arriving from hotspot states weren't all earlier tested - and these people have come in contact with the locals. It will obviously be a big task for the government to find them out - but the government has to do it if the curve is to be flattened.
Door to door survey can help out - but again lack of awareness of coronavirus in some parts of the state is affecting the survey. So, the government has to focus more on the awareness campaign across the state. Positive thing is that the state has a recovery rate of 67.42% - but panic is rising in the state. Obviously, the Biplab Deb government never fails to reiterate that everything is under control. But, the data points out that everything is not fine. Truth is that the situation is worsening in the state. This complacency just on the basis of recovery rates and testing per million figures - particularly when the fatality rate is increasing - may have serious effects in the future. It is time for the state government to be serious about the strategies required - before it's too late. (IPA Service)