Why not quarantine all native returnees?
REGARDLESS of resentment in few quarters that the initiative to bring back stranded natives to their home state smacks of holistic approach, the government of Manipur seems to have made the right move to mitigate the distressful situation that people stuck on account of the lockdown have been enduring. As complaint on the transportation issue is primarily based on the fact that majority of the Manipur-bound passengers are non-tribal, it is unlikely that the disenchantment would persist for long for purpose of the repatriation arrangement is to encompass whoever wants to be back home even if it takes time. For this to happen, the state natives will have to ensure their presence at the designated place to make the task more convenient for officials entrusted to oversee the transportation. As priority is being given to those who are currently putting up at Guwahati Manipur Bhawan, the government can’t be blamed for leaving behind some of the citizens who are equally anxious to return as sardine-like packing of the buses is out of the question in the current situation. With the Ministry of Home Affairs laying down strict rules that physical distancing guidelines should be maintained inside the buses as well, those who couldn’t be accommodated in the first phase of the transportation shouldn’t be disheartened. The restriction imposed against cramming the public carriers is one of the reasons for the government to shortlist only 84 state natives out of possibly thousands stuck in and around Guwahati and are most eager to be reunited with their loved ones. Now that the government has initiated rescue of the state natives starting with Assam, it is obvious that many others stranded in different parts of the country would be hoping for expeditious expansion of the coverage area.
Apart from Manipuris stranded in major cities reeling under the impact of the lockdown and constantly sending SOSs through the social media platform, conventional media or contacting the government machinery, there are also reports that many state natives are living in wretched conditions subsequent to the Union government deciding to cease all non-essential activities to contain contemporary world’s most feared disease. While racial abuse and abrupt cessation of livelihood sources have been making the stranded natives feel miserable away from home, the northeast region remaining relatively free from the virus outbreak compared to the bleak prospect of normalcy returning in many parts of the country is another prime reason for many to leave their job and adopted home. While it is natural that everybody would be greatly relieved with the decision to bring home the stranded natives, the move will obviously make the task difficult for the government as adequate and effective arrangements should be put in place to make the effort purposeful. Apart from creating additional quarantine facilities so that none of the returnees bring home the dreaded virus, there is need for extreme precautionary measures as the virus incubation period has been increasingly inconsistent. Instead of the standard procedure of home quarantining of persons whose test results turn negative, it is desired that all the returnees are kept under the watchful eyes of the medical professionals at designated quarantine facility. As the state natives have been resilient enough to withstand more distressful situations owing to the lockdown as well as racial discrimination, it seems that they wouldn’t complaint much when advised to remain in quarantine centres for a specific period for the sake of safety of theirs, their family and the community at large. Similar to the unpredictable nature of the disease, there is, however, no guarantee that all returnees would be mature persons, bear noble characters and honour the home quarantine protocols.