SHILLONG, Apr 16: Meghalaya Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma on Thursday, said that the state was still lagging behind in its fight against COVID-19. He also said that there was panic among citizens of the state because scientific information about the virus hasn’t been shared extensively.
He urged the state government to put up a robust system utilising all civic societies, religious organisations and systems currently in place to “enlighten” people on COVID-19.
The Former Chief Minister revealed that he had personally made visits to several hospitals and found that they were still under prepared. He also informed that he had held discussions with people in the frontline and found that they had no transparency of information or the ultimate response to dealing with people infected with the virus.
He also suggested that aggressive counselling of people in frontline should be done so that they will not be psychologically affected.
“It is not the time for blame game but it is the time to identify the shortfalls and attend to them,” he said during an online media briefing.
Dr Sangma also informed that he had received several distress calls over lack of essential commodities, including rice. He urged the Meghalaya Government to ensure people without ration cards also be provided with essential supplies.
“For the remaining days of the lockdown people will be hard-pressed and one measure we have seen was whatever was announced by the Government of India to cover those people with ration cards but what about the rest. We all know that there are people from most vulnerable people including the widows, elderly people who are not covered under National Food Security Act and other entitlements,” he said.
He also touched on the issue of students and other individuals stranded outside the state. “We are receiving lots of distress calls from Assam, Chennai, Bengaluru and more. There should be a dedicated Officer district wise who can keep in touch with them so they know whom to call, when to call, and to share their grievances,” he said.
Dr Sangma suggested that arrangements should be made on how to bring back those individuals stranded outside the state, adding, “We don’t know when the lockdown will end. The measures currently in place are not enough, they are definitely undergoing psychological problems.”
He also urged the government to utilise the lockdown appropriately so that the state will be capable of facing challenges post the lockdown period. “Whatever time is available now, let us not waste it. To ensure we have a robust system, comprehensive measures should be put in place to deal with the challenge of COVID-19 and to be able to win this war,” the Leader of Opposition said.
Speaking on the issue of locals who had opposed the last rites of Meghalaya’s first COVID-19 case, he said that the government should have laid down a set course of action in case of unfortunate loss of life. He urged everyone to be careful and not stigmatise the disease.
“There is no reason for panic, the reason for panic is lack of sharing of information about the disease and how to handle it,” he said, adding, “A robust system should be put in place where every district, every block level must be exhausted in sharing of information.”
He also said that social distancing isn’t being followed honestly and that people have to be repeatedly advised and reminded by the government.
The Former Chief Minister also lauded Assam’s effort in dealing with COVID-19 saying, “If they weren’t efficient and proactive, all the North Eastern States would have suffered.”