Centre may focus on states with more Covid-19 cases, migrants
Continued focus on 13 cities and five states worst hit by Covid-19, the monitoring of the situation in seven states that are seeing a return of many of their residents who were working outside, and stringent enforcement of containment zones, which could be smaller zones within municipalities and corporations could be the broad approach of India’s next phase of exit from the ongoing lockdown.
All three issues were discussed at the meeting between union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba and the states on Thursday, according to people familiar with the proceedings who asked not to be named. The meeting was attended by the chief secretaries of the states and union territories, and district magistrates and commissioners of the 13 worst-hit cities.
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Internal discussions between home and health ministries and the Indian Council of Medical Research have started on the contours of the next phase of the exit from the lockdown.
At the meeting, the Centre said that the focus remains on two categories of states, the people added: those which have seen large number of Covid cases in last two and half months and those which are receiving large number of migrant labourers.
While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Tamil Nadu fall in the previous category, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand fall in the second. Madhya Pradesh, whose most important commercial city Indore was an early hotspot of the coronavirus disease is also a borderline candidate to be included in the first category.
While the former group of large states have seen large number of cases, shorter doubling period, and higher confirmation rates in tests, the second category is seeing a late rise due to the movement of migrants.
The current phase of the lockdown, the fourth, is set to end on May 31. However, since May 3, when the second phase ended, there have been considerable relaxation in restrictions.
As India inches towards the next phase of exiting the lockdown, the Centre has told the states they can mark smaller areas within the municipalities as containment zones. The states have also been told to “appropriately demarcate” such zones and ensure strict enforcement.
At the meeting it was decided that municipal corporations can demarcate “residential colony, mohallas, municipal wards or police-station area, municipal zones, towns can be designated as containment zones, as appropriate,” according to the people cited in the first instance.
The meeting assumes significance as the centre has received reports about laxity in controlling the containment zones .
District Magistrates of 13 COVID-19 hit cities, chief secretaries of all states, UTs attended The meeting. These 13 cities are considered to be the worst Coronavirus affected locations and constitute about 70% of the positive cases in the country.
Municipal commissioners of Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi/New Delhi, Ahmadabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata/Howrah, Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chengalpattu (Tamil Nadu) and Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu) attended the meeting.