State health ministers glad at lockdown extension

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown by two more weeks and has issued new guidelines to regulate different activities for that duration. The guidelines are based on the situation in the various Red, Green and Orange Zones. According to the MHA guidelines, certain relaxations have been given in districts which are in Green and Orange zones. In an exclusive interaction with The Daily Guardian, State Health Ministers suggested that people should take precautions to fight against Covid-19. Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said in order to contain spread, it is important to continue the lockdown but economic activities should be allowed in areas where there are no reported cases. He said the state government is conducting tests every day and is aiming at enhancing its capacity by using Korean rapid test kits, which is frequent and costs less than Chinese kits. Vij told The Daily Guardian, “Corona active cases have been found in 300 districts nationwide. Other than these districts, economic activities should be started by the government. So, that positive cases can be handled and the economy can start moving simultaneously.”

As a precautionary measure, Haryana’s border with Delhi has been sealed, allowing for essential services but stricter restrictions have been imposed on those coming from Delhi to Haryana. “The state’s borders have been sealed for 15-20 days to control the spread of virus. We got many cases from Delhi after which we decided to seal the borders,” Vij said. On steps the Haryana government has taken to control the spread of coronavirus, he said the state has increased its testing numbers and conducted tests. But it’s important to have self-awareness and precautions, which can only help control the spread. “We got 28 cases from Jhajjar in a single day but it’s not a community spread. People have to initiate social distancing measures and need to change themselves,” he said. “In Haryana, a team of 3000 doctors, 20,000 Asha workers and Anganwadi workers are screening people door-to-door and creating awareness. We have also given instructions to the CMOs to test vendors, hawkers etc.,” he said. In order to contain Covid-19 spread, Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said the state is focusing on testing people but still there are many districts where the numbers are rising.

The most affected districts are Jodhpur and Jaipur, where many patients have been treated and discharged. But still many cases are continuing to be reported. According to Sharma, a major challenge has been the testing of labourers returning to the state and their quarantine. “We have issued important instructions to all the CMOs regarding testing and quarantine facilities for labourers, who are coming back from different states,” he said. Speaking about the nationwide lockdown, Raghu Sharma said it has helped the Rajasthan government to control the spread of corona cases, which was rising rapidly. Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh said PM Narendra Modi has already done video conferencing with all the CMs regarding lockdown. But in 12 districts, where no case has been reported in Uttar Pradesh, permission has been granted for commercial activities like small scale industries and shops to open. “We have made a plan how to start commercial activities in districts which are corona free. But final call will be taken by PM Modi.”

“It is important that the lockdown is relaxed in phases but not in one go. We are tracking each case and our team of 20,000 doctors, paramedical staff all are working together.” He added, “We started lockdown on March 22, it’s almost 40 days. We have controlled spread but we can start economic activities in Green Zone districts with the help of sealing borders. As of now, lockdown should be lifted in phases.” Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also said lockdown restrictions should be lifted zone wise. In a live webcast, he said lockdown rules will not be relaxed in haste. “We will work cautiously. It’s in nobody’s interest to lift the lockdown in Covid-19 Red Zones like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad, where the number of positive cases is on the rise.”

Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo said it is important the lockdown is relaxed but in a gradual manner and not in one go. He emphasised on change in daily lifestyle by wearing masks, maintain social distancing, wash hands regularly and adopt other precautionary measures. However, according to the Joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “The total 1,993 cases have been reported in last 24 hours, taking the total to 35,043. At least 564 people recovered in 24 hours. The recovery rate stands at 25.37 percent.” With the announcement of extending the lockdown, it’s clear that the government has understood the concerns raised by CMs in their fourth meeting with PM and, if the last 48 hours are to be taken into account, all their concerns have been met.

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