New Delhi: The lockdown period of 21 days is ending on 14th April. However, some states demanded an extension to the lockdown, given the surge in Coronavirus cases in India. Talks have commenced after that to consider an extension to the lockdown. Given the developments, the Union Health Ministry said that the decision would be taken, depending on the situation in each state. ‘The Cabinet Secretary is in touch with all the states. The government will announce the decision once it is taken. Until then, please do not believe in any rumours,’ Joint Secretary of Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said.
In a press conference, Agrawal informed that the total number of deaths in the country had reached 117 while 354 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. He also said that 326 patients were discharged after being cured of the disease. Moreover, the Health Minister shared the information regarding the preparations the government had undertaken in case the pandemic spreads further. ‘Corona Centres would be created around the country for the infections, and the Indian Railways has already converted 2,500 coaches into medical facilities, creating 40,000 isolation beds for Coronavirus patients. Every day, the railways are adding 375 isolation beds’, Agrawal underlined.
When questioned about some states indicating an extension to the lockdown, Agarwal highlighted its importance as he answered the question. Besides, Agrawal referred to the study carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). ‘If a coronavirus patient does not practice social distancing, the person may infect 406 people in 30 days. On the other hand, if the patient does observe social distancing and 75% of the lockdown rules, he may infect hardly 2 or 3 people. Therefore, lockdown and social distancing become vital in the fight against the new Coronavirus. The number of cases will not reduce if the lockdown rules are not followed,’ Agrawal underscored as he hinted that the extension to the lockdown was a necessity.
Previously, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had made an appealed that the government must extend the lockdown by three weeks, terming it the biggest weapon in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, even Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, said that the decision to extend the lockdown would be taken if the need arises. He candidly expressed his opinion stating that the losses the economy incurs are recoverable, but the lives lost cannot be compensated. Even the Chief Minister of Karnataka said that the withdrawal of the lockdown was less probable even after 14th April.
Rajesh Tope, the Maharashtra Health Minister, has asserted that no one should assume that the lockdown restrictions would be relaxed after 14th April. Additionally, ‘The decision will have to be taken according to the situation. Steps will have to be taken very carefully. More precaution is necessary, especially in cities like Mumbai and Pune, where the number of cases is high,’ Tope said.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu hoped that no matter the decision on the lockdown after 14th April, its rules must be followed just as they are being done today.