Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 7
The Group of Ministers (GoM) that met today is set to recommend that the nationwide lockdown be lifted in a phased manner. The shutdown is to end on April 15. Sources have indicated that a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by almost all key ministers decided to recommend that closure of educational institutions be extended as also restrictions on religious activities entailing public participation.
Edit: The exit plan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video-conference with state Chief Ministers to elicit their views on the issue. The immediate concern is the harvesting of wheat crop. Some relaxation would have to be given as harvesting, post-harvest loading and transportation involve the labour.
Sources said the final call may be taken after April 10 after studying data. A call will have to be taken on reopening of malls and cinema houses.
Earlier in the day, co-chairman of the Empowered Committee on Covid-19 Response VK Paul said all options were open and the government was taking into account various factors to determine the timing and nature of a strategy to de-escalate the lockdown.
Speaking to The Tribune, he said an important consideration for India’s medium-term strategy against Covid-19 would be the impact of the current lockdown in the form of diminishing number of cases.
“We expect to see the results of the lockdown in the next two to three days and also a definitive change in disease trends in the form of diminishing numbers. These trends will be a very important consideration in our medium-term strategy against the virus. A systematic understanding of determinants is being undertaken and the government is examining all aspects to develop a plan for de-escalation of the lockdown,” said Paul, also a member of NITI Aayog.
He said a strategy would be framed considering the disease outbreak profile and Covid 19 projections on the one hand and needs of the people, industry, agriculture and labour on the other. “The visible big gain of the lockdown has been that cases have been staggered and we have bought time to strengthen our health system, rope in private resources and plan better for the future,” he noted.
On the surge in cases, he replied: “The surge you see today is because of the disease existing in the pre- lockdown stage,” he explained.
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