Most of country should remain in lockdown for 6-8 weeks: ICMR chief


The head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava, has said that districts reporting a high number of infections should remain locked down for another six to eight weeks to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Dr Bhargava said, as reported by Reuters, that lockdown restrictions should remain in place in all districts where the rate of infection is above 10% of those tested.

Bhargava’s comments are the first time a senior government official has outlined how India needs long lockdowns to curb the rising Covid-19 cases in India.

“The high positivity districts should remain (shut). If they come to 5% from 10% (positivity rate) we can open them, but that has to happen. That won’t happen in six-eight weeks, clearly,” Bhargava said in an interview with Reuters at the New Delhi headquarters of the ICMR. Referring to the capital, one of India’s hardest hit cities where the positivity rate reached around 35% but has now fallen to about 17%, Bhargava said: “If Delhi is opened tomorrow, it will be a disaster.”

Bhargava conceded that there had been a delay in responding to the Covid crisis. “I think the only discontent we have was there was a slight delay accepting the 10% (recommendation), but that did happen,” he said.