Will districts with no Covid-19 cases be first to be unlocked? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Will districts with no Covid-19 cases be first to be unlocked?

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByChetan Chauhan and Rhythma Kaul
Apr 06, 2020 02:49 AM IST

This strategy could be crucial to lifting the three-week lockdown in force since March 25 without risking a resurgence of the disease.

Curbs on movement and commercial activity could be relaxed first in districts with no coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, officials in multiple states have said, offering some pointers about how a staggered return to normal activity could work after April 15, when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end.

This may be the first phase of the easing, the official said, adding that the second would cover the districts with relatively few patients.(S Bate/HT)
This may be the first phase of the easing, the official said, adding that the second would cover the districts with relatively few patients.(S Bate/HT)

India has over 4,000 Covid-19 cases and infections have been doubling at a rate of 4.1 days, federal officials said on Sunday, adding that they discussed with states a “containment strategy” that hinges on identifying and cordoning off hot spot areas.

Click here for the complete coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic

“We held a video conference today with heads of all districts to orient them with our containment strategy, which focuses on districts reporting large number of cases such as Bhilwara, Agra and Gautam Budh Nagar. Officials from these districts also shared their insights,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary of the Union health ministry, at the daily briefing in New Delhi.

This strategy could be crucial to lifting the three-week lockdown in force since March 25 without risking a resurgence of the disease. As on Sunday, cases have been reported from 274 of the country’s 718 districts. Twenty-one of the 230 districts in 9 states are considered hot spots.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a conference call on Thursday with chief ministers from across the country, had asked states to pitch in with ideas on how the curbs can be relaxed in a phased manner.

Officials in three states – Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana — said they were in favour of first relaxing curbs in districts that are at present free of infections. “There would be ban on entry of people from the Covid districts into these ones,” said a senior official involved in the containment plan in Rajasthan.

This may be the first phase of the easing, the official said, adding that the second would cover the districts with relatively few patients. The final phase of easing would then include high containment districts. Around half of Rajasthan’s 33 districts have no case.

Non-essential public gatherings, such as those for religious and political reasons, and the reopening of public places such as malls and cinema halls and educational institutions, may take some more time, the official added.

A senior official in the Haryana government, who asked not to be named, said the state is in favour of following a similar strategy, but a majority of the districts — 14 of 22 — may need to live with a longer lockdown since they have several cases. “All will depend on how these districts recover in the next 10 days,” this person said, identifying key NCR cities such as Gurugram, Faridabad and Palwal, which account for 57 of 76 cases, as those where the curbs could continue.

In Maharashtra, officials said a lockdown was likely to continue in most urban areas for a couple of weeks more. “I see lockdown extending beyond April 14 in urban areas,” said state health minister Rajesh Tope, adding that these had seen significant infections.

Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of infections in the country with at least 700 cases, and concerns have been mounting in recent days over the disease spreading to densely populated areas such as state capital Mumbai’s Dharavi area.

In Uttar Pradesh, 47 of the 75 districts are without a reported Covid-19 infection. “The good news is there is no indication of community spread in UP even though many cases are linked to Tablighi Jamaat,” said an official from a key government office overseeing the containment efforts. Three containment facilities will be created in all districts with positive cases, this official added.

Agriculture and allied industries in the state, such as flour mills and the sugarcane industry, as well some industries that are far from urban areas are likely to be allowed to resume operations.

Key NCR cities such as Noida and Ghaziabad, and state capital Lucknow, are unlikely to return to normal levels of activity, officials said.

Punjab, which was the first state to impose curfew on March 21, may continue with lockdown in most parts, but issue curfew passes to allow harvesting from April 15. Rabi harvest would be procured from villages, and some industrial activity in Jalandhar and Ludhiana may be allowed in staggered manner with social distancing rules in force. “A final call will be taken on April 12 or 13,” said Suresh Kumar, Punjab chief minister’s chief principal secretary.

The state is in favour of opening all farm markets to allow farmers to sell their produce; it wants office and business establishments to be allowed to function with staggered timings; and restoration of some interstate transport services, said Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, advisor to chief minister on public affairs.

Reddy added that the state will likely send in its suggestions to the PM by April 8.

Kerala has allowed leaf plucking and other activities in sprawling tea estates of Idukki and Wayanad, but with strict riders. “We have given strict instruction to keep social distancing when they work. The district administration and labour officers of the area will monitor this,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The decision came after some establishments threatened to close their units permanently.

(Pankaj Jaiswal in Lucknow, Surendra Gangan in Mumbai, Sachin Saini in Jaipur, Ranjan in Bhopal and Navneet Sharma and Hitender Rao in Chandigarh contributed to this story).

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Budget 2024, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On