Isolated lockdowns not enough: Centre
Many states have enforced lockdowns over weekends in select areas to tackle spiralling Covid-19 cases.Updated: Jul 25, 2020, 08:26 IST
Two to three-day lockdowns alone are not enough to contain Covid-19, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba told representatives of nine states at a special review meeting on Friday while cautioning against the delay in procurement of testing kits, officials aware of the matter said. Gauba warned the delay might have “grave consequences” and added some states have demonstrated “the situation can be turned around” while others have “showed how it can deteriorate”, they added.
Many states have enforced lockdowns over weekends in select areas to tackle spiralling Covid-19 cases.
Chief secretaries of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, West Bengal and Assam attended the meeting along with senior central government officials. “These nine states are new concern areas for us,” said a union government official. “...several issues of compliance and Covid-19 management have come up in these states.”
Gauba usually holds meetings with representatives of all states on Covid-19, but Friday’s was a rare meet with select states.
Along with the weekend lockdowns, systematic containment and surveillance would be required, the Centre told the states. It also asked the states to strengthen hospital infrastructure and clinical management.
Gauba pointed out delay in decisions has shown grave consequences in some cases and asked the states to ensure advance procurement plans for testing kits and other medical equipment.
An official, who attended the meeting, said the rate of testing suddenly dropped in some states and they did not have enough antigen kits.
The Centre has emphasised stronger communication between the administration and the public. West Bengal chief secretary Rajeeva Sinha pointed out that his state has multiple issues, including occupancy of Covid-19 beds by non-symptomatic patients. Bihar’s representative said they have not involved private hospitals but it would be done from Monday and sought the Centre’s permission to set up rapid antigen test booths.
The states were advised to ramp up testing with special focus on containment zones as sustained and aggressive testing is crucial for early identification of cases, and to prevent the spread of infection.
“The rise in test per million has been achieved with a steady rise in the number of labs [1,290], and efforts by the Centre and State/UT [Union Territory] governments to facilitate wide-spread testing through an array of options,” said Union health ministry in a statement.
Dr T Jacob John, a former virology department head at Vellore’s Christian College, said he cannot stress enough on how aggressive testing is a must to control the Covid-19 spread. “It is better to overdo it rather than inadequate testing,” he said.