IMPHAL: While the initiative of the police personnel with the help of certain organisations picking up many homeless drug users and keeping them in various drug rehabilitation centres is definitely praiseworthy, however, in the wake of the corona virus outbreak, it would be a wise decision on the part of the authority concern to set up a separate quarantine or isolation centre for the drug users to contain further spread of Corona virus from any infected drug user.
Community Response on COVID-19 (CROC-19), in a press release said that it has come to the knowledge of the community, a committee comprising eight (8) civil society organisations viz, Social Awareness Service Organisation (SASO), Kripa Society, Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+), Care Foundation, Users Society for Effective Response (USER Manipur), Dedicated People’s Union (DPU), Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) and Makers Foundation through local media, that homeless drug users are being picked up by police personnel along with the help of certain organisations of the state and are being kept at various drug rehabilitation centres where many are already being put up for rehabilitation.
Under such a situation, it is possible for spread of the Corona virus among the inmates of the centre from those newly recruited homeless drug users if any of them happens to be a carrier of the virus, at a time when the whole world including the state government is asking the people to maintain social distancing to curb the pandemic. This act of the authority will have serious repercussions if not responded swiftly, added the Convenor.
The government can set up separate quarantine or isolation centres for the drug users where all necessary preventive measures for combating the pandemic is put in place. For this to come into reality and maintain social distancing as far as possible, we would like to suggest to the state government to identify schools and colleges and take up detoxification camps in the identified centres so that those drug users picked up by police and organisations can be made to occupy in these centres instead of putting them in drug treatment centres where there are already inmates staying and prevent from the risk of further spreading among the community.
There are also reports reaching us that many of the drug rehabilitation centres running under the sponsorship/funding of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under the department of Social Welfare, government of Manipur, has closed down in the wake of the total shut down in the state following the corona virus outbreak. The social welfare department keeping silent at this crucial juncture is very unfortunate and uncalled for.
We are also of the opinion that none of the existing privately run drug rehabilitation centres admit new clients in their respective centres during this time of the corona pandemic. The authority concerned should also ensure that none of the presently running rehabilitation centres get shut owing to shortage of essential commodities such as food, water and cooking gas.
The authority concerned is further appealed to come up with specific strategies to convert all the closed down centres into quarantine or isolated centres and entertained all picked up drug users including the homeless for their safety as well as for the welfare of all.
Finally, we would also like to draw the attention of the government that social distancing among the drug users community which is also one of the risk populations of COVID-19, is the need of the hour. If this practice is not followed among this community, the global, national and state initiative to contain COVID-9 would be in vain, said Nalinikanta Rajkumar Convenor of CROC-19 said in the press release.