India Plans to Continue Sealing off Coronavirus Hot-spots while Relaxing National Lockdown

The Indian government is looking for several options of policies as for the exit plan after the end of the three weeks national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. According to some government officials shared the views on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, that the government is considering plans to continue sealing off coronavirus hotspots in Delhi, Mumbai, and Kerala while relaxing the lockdown in other parts of the country.

Limited Lockdown

The coronavirus forced lockdown has already caused a deep economic impact in the country and a hundred daily-wage workers and families, who were stranded in the countryside by the lockdown, have mounted the pressure on the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to re-open parts of Asia’s third-largest economy.

Till Wednesday, India has registered around 5,194 people infected with coronavirus of whom 149 have died and some analysts warned that the situation might be getting worse in the coming days after the lifting of the lockdown.

The 21 days national lockdown by the Modi government has badly impacted India’s 1.3 billion people to prevent an epidemic of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, which will end on April 14. As the days are closer, the Modi government is due to make a decision this week on whether and how to extend the lockdown.

According to the officials, the central government was planning to continue the lockdown in the major cities, the epicenters of the virus outbreak. As per the government data, “More than 80% of the positive cases of the coronavirus have been traced to 62 districts — less than 10% of India’s landmass,” concentrated in some major states including Maharashtra, Mumbai, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Kerala.

Containment Strategy with Safety Assessment

The Joint Secretary of Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal cited the government’s efforts to tackle the virus outbreak, “To manage coronavirus, we are working on a cluster containment strategy.” Some health officials explained that the widespread virus could expand more; so, the key affected areas and its surrounding areas would be cordoned off.

Referring to the government’s strict regulations towards some of these epicenters, a district information officer, Gouri Kant said, “It is a lockdown, within a lockdown.” A senior government official also said that there were many places that have not reported a single case of the virus infection and these areas could be lifted from restrictions. The official added that, however, schools, colleges, rail travel, and religious gatherings would remain shut across the country.

The official explained, “There are proposals that are on the table if there is a partial lifting it will be done on the basis of safety assessment.” Dr. S K Sarin, who leads the Delhi government’s panel on COVID-19, said, “If the lockdown has to be eased, it should be done in a graded manner in areas that are not hotspots. The hotspots should remain cordoned off.”

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