India appears to be headed for more stringent lockdowns to rein in the massive surge in deadly coronavirus infections as both medical experts and apex industry chambers are giving fresh feedbacks to the Centre.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while urging the states to avoid blanket lockdowns that would cripple the economy and hit livelihoods has also maintained all along that the government would go by the advice of medical experts in formulating its policy to tackle the devastating pandemic.
AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria has now stated that the country’s health infrastructure is "stretched to the limit" and "aggressive lockdowns," like the one imposed in March last year are required in areas with positivity rates of over 10 per cent to contain the second COVID-19 wave.
Dr Guleria said the ferocity with which the virus was spreading is unprecedented, and night curfews and weekend lockdowns, such as those enforced by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and other states, were proving to be ineffectual.
“We have to work aggressively to bring this number down. No healthcare system in the world can manage this kind of load. The issue of aggressive containment or lockdown holds the key," Dr Guleria said on television.
Similarly, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Uday Kotak, has said authorities should curtail economic activity to snap the transmission chain of coronavirus infections.
“At this critical juncture when toll of lives is rising, CII urges the strongest national steps including curtailing economic activity to reduce suffering,” Uday Kotak, who is also chief executive of Kotak Mahindra Bank, said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had imposed one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world during the first Covid-19 wave, but has increasingly left it to the states to act more locally this year amid concerns of large scale disruptions of livelihoods. He has already provided for free foodgrains to the poor and this would be stepped up in the days ahead with stricter lockdowns, a senior official said.
The Supreme Court of India on Sunday had also advised the central and state governments to consider a lockdown to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission.
"In light of the continuing surge of infections in the second wave of the pandemic, we direct the Central Government and State Governments to put on record the efforts taken to curb the spread of the virus and the measures that they plan on taking in the near future," the Supreme Court observed.
"At the same time, we would seriously urge the Central and State Governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events. They may also consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare," the apex court stated.
India reported a staggering 392,488 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with the number of deaths shooting up by a record 3,689.
This relentless surge in the coronavirus infections has come as a major setback for the global war against the pandemic as India had emerged as the pharmacy to the world, exporting vaccines and medical supplies to as many as 80 nations. The country is now running short of supplies itself due to the massive second wave.