GUWAHATI, May 19 - The Government of India anticipated a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases as soon as the inter-state movement of stranded people was allowed and that is exactly what is happening in different states of the country including Assam.
Highly placed sources in the Government of India told The Assam Tribune that despite knowing the risks involved, the Government of India was forced to allow inter-state movement of stranded people and migrant labourers on humanitarian grounds. On the positive side, some states including Assam have managed to quarantine the people coming from outside, thereby reducing the risk of spreading of the disease. However, the testing facilities are fully stressed because of the large scale movement of people. It may be mentioned here that the Assam government has received requests from more than 5.40 lakh people, who are keen to return home.
Sources pointed out that for the first time, India is facing a lockdown of such nature as the disease has spread to all over the country. During the British period, India faced major epidemics, but no such countrywide lockdown was imposed apparently because the British rulers were more concerned about maintaining public order rather than the health of the Indian people. Though, India faced outbreaks of different epidemics from time to time, the outbreaks were confined to certain pockets of the country and there was no need to impose a country wide lockdown, sources pointed out.
Official sources said that the COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented in nature and though the death rate is not very high, the disease is highly contagious and faced with such a situation, there was no way out to impose a lockdown.
The government is fully aware of the fact that lockdown is creating major problems for the citizens and hit the economy hard. But this is the only way to prevent spreading of the disease in a thickly populated country like India. The lockdown is one of the ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus as no vaccine to prevent the disease or no medicine to cure it is available, sources added.
Sources also said that though contact tracing of the affected people are being carried out all over the country, it is not an easy task. �The success of such a move depends on the awareness level of the concerned persons. There are instances where the affected people willingly did not cooperate with the health authorities. On the other hand, even if a person is willing to cooperate with the authorities, it will not be possible for him, or her to remember names of all the persons with whom the person came into contact in the past 14 days. The situation is more difficult in case a migrant from other state is affected by the disease. He or she would not even know the names of the persons who came into contact during the movement from one state to another,� sources admitted.
Sources said that in most states, health workers are engaged for questioning people and police personnel then try to find out the persons who came into contact with the affected person. However, Kerala adopted a different measure and police personnel were involved to carry out contact tracing from the beginning. The police personnel are trained for questioning people and investigating cases and they can do a better job in this regard than the health workers. That is why, despite being a highly vulnerable state with contacts with the Middle East and even COVID-19 hotspot Wuhan in China, Kerala managed to contain the disease, sources said.