BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced at the beginning of the 21-day all-India lockdown that it would be lifted on April 14. Ever since, the Centre along with state governments have partnered on a war footing to contain the spread of coronavirus with varying levels of success.
Compared to the many coronavirus impacted countries, India is better off, but spike in coronavirus statistics have been a cause concern. If the current growth rate of coronavirus cases were to continue, the country will be dealing with over 17,000 infected patients by April 14. And if that happens, then there’s no way the lockdown will be removed completely on that.
Modi had recently said people must be prepared for the long haul. At a Cabinet meeting, he had urged ministers to come up with a “graded plan”, which was seen to indicate a gradual rollback.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said a decision on extending the lockdown would be taken “in the national interest” and would be declared “at the right time”.
To get on with a rather complicated task, there are several doable suggestions being floated within the government. Among them the most promising proposal suggest to divide the country into three zones – green, yellow and red, with the zones depicting the exposure risk to the disease.
The green zone is to be considered as the safest, which could be the first to be opened up and will permit resumption most of the core economic activity.
In the yellow zone, economic and industrial activity could begin on a lower scale while the most risky red zone gets the lockdown period extended.
A second approach suggests the governement to call upon the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic experience and prepare a map identifying the risk zones, surveillance and containment in hotspots while the lower or no risk zones return to normalcy.
A ministry report also mentions how this approach had a bigger impact on large cities with dense populations while the rural areas remained relatively free from the pandemic’s grip.
Another significant proposal being discussed is to have industry-specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which each industry needed to come up with based on the existing conditions in their respective sectors.
Even after the lockdown is removed, the country will still be vulnerable to “second wave” of imported infections that is also affecting countries like China, South Korea and Singapore. These countries have been successful in stopping the spread of coronavirus in recent weeks.