COVID-19: Social distancing amiss in public spaces

IMPHAL, 4th Jun: Although the world is reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in the state seem unable to understand the seriousness of the situation or prefer being indifferent to it entirely. An example of this is the complete lack of social distancing/physical distancing in public spaces, which has increased the risk of the outbreak going out of control in the state.
Medical experts across the globe have stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing as one of the effective means of preventing community spread of the coronavirus. The same has also been emphasised in the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, despite the rising number of positive cases in the state, many people are not maintaining social distancing, thereby imperilling themselves and others by increasing the risk of community transmission and cementing the total annihilation of the state.
On Thursday, reporters of this daily observed tight queues/lines in front of MSPDCL Recharge vending counter at Keishampat, with the customers failing to maintain any social/physical distancing. Similar sights were witnessed at several ATM booths, in the Post Office and banks in Imphal City. Police or security personnel were also seen not enforcing social distancing in the said locations.
Speaking to The People’s Chronicle in this regard, a customer waiting in line at the MSPDCL Recharge vending counter, Keishampat said that he used to pay his electricity bill online. However, the online facility suddenly failed and as such, he had to physically come and pay his bills at the counter. If MSDCL authority had resolve the online recharge issue, customers would not have thronged the counter to pay their electricity bills, the customer remarked.
It may recalled here that many people had thronged the Post Office a few days ago, completely ignoring the government’s order to maintain social distancing after rumours went around of a scheme, which promised to deposit Rs 5000 in the accounts of students to enable them to buy smart phones for attending online classes.
According to WHO guidelines, social distancing is an important and effective means of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Many countries across the world are following the advice of medical experts regarding the importance of social distancing. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued orders to maintain social distancing, apart from imposing a nationwide lockdown and preventing gathering of any sort. To relay this message to the masses, the public, particularly those with mobile phones are informed about the precautionary measures against COVID-19 including social distancing in the form of dialler/caller tunes. In addition, the said precautionary measures are disseminated regularly to the masses through print and electronic media.
The state government too had imposed a statewide lockdown from March 24 to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Subsequently, it also facilitated the return of stranded natives, which led to increase of positive cases in the state. Fortunately, no cases have been detected from the native residents and no community transmission has been reported.
Nonetheless, all of the safety measures in place would be rendered useless if the people fail to adhere to the guidelines including maintaining social distancing during the few hours relaxed during the lockdown and the curfew imposed from 2pm to 5am. Thus, the state government needs to pay serious attention to this issue before the situation gets any worse.

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