Union home ministry last week issued fresh guidelines allowing schools and cinemas to open, festive activities along with lifting curbs from all interstate travel and unimposing local lockdowns
NEW DELHI :
Government’s clear message of its intensifying focus on livelihoods with Unlock 5 to pump up economic activities may tell upon the stabilizing covid-19 pandemic in the country triggering a surge in cases.
Union home ministry last week issued fresh guidelines allowing schools and cinemas to open, festive activities along with lifting curbs from all interstate travel and unimposing local lockdowns.
The total tally of covid-19 cases reached 6759585 on Wednesday with the toll touching 105071. The active caseload of the country has slid to 13.44% of the total positive cases and is consistently declining according to the union health ministry. About two weeks ago, the country was recording an average of 90,000 cases per day which has been declining from 80,000 and under.
“For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the 7-day average daily new Covid-19 cases have been on a continuous decline for the past 17 days at the national level suggestive of a definitive peak for the time-being although the same cannot be said for many individual states and districts. The new unlock 5 norms might thwart this declining momentum and possibly take the daily new cases to a plateau," said Rijo John, a Public Health Economist.
Opening of schools and educational institutions being considered a risk of virus spread, unregulated interstate movement is likely to ease hitches of tourism and start frequent movement, public health experts have said. Some states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have been imposing local lockdown will now ease restrictions. Similarly, the hilly state Uttarakhand, also a tourist destination, that had stringent entry checks by the police on state borders would also ease curbs. As Uttar Pradesh (UP) few weeks ago did away with the local lockdowns, the police would now only be looking at the containment zones to monitor movement.
“As far as our district is concerned, interstate movement from Madhya Pradesh is expected to increase now that there are no restrictions on movement. Movement restrictions on goods and persons were eased by the government in earlier MHA guidelines. The fresh guidelines have also relaxed e-pass norms," Akash Tomar, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Etawah district, UP told Mint. “Even if there were no restriction on interstate movement on goods and persons in UP, police check posts were highly active and kept a strict vigil on vehicles entering the state. Free movement of people certainly may increase chances of more cases, especially during festivals," he said.
UP has been constantly recording higher number of cases for last few months and currently stands at the fifth spot in the country with over 4.2 million cases. MP too contributes over 1.3 million cases in the country’s total tally. Rajasthan that managed to curtail its increasing numbers with ruthless containment strategy and limiting its covid-19 numbers to around 1.5 million, too has no restrictions now. “With tourism reviving, there is now no quarantine policy or travel restrictions," said Rohit Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary, medical and health, Rajasthan.
Government however has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for festivals, cinema halls and schools, non adherence is likely impact epidemic curve.
India, currently at second position in world in disease burden, is fast racing to the top spot after US in number of covid-19 cases. While the questions remain about the evolution of pandemic, with the shrinking economy, costs of lockdowns are clear.
“Amidst reports of a second wave again like the Europe, unlock 5 will have more people around, winters of north India will have more of them huddled into closed spaces, and therefore there is a need to exercise extreme caution and follow all health guidelines especially when vaccine for the 1.3 billion is still a long shot. Difficult days ahead and a Hobson choice for sure for the Government," said Ashwajit Singh, Managing director, IPE GLOBAL, an international development consulting firm.
“Unlocking needs to be followed up by infusing more genuine liquidity and generating demand. This could be done by the government clearing its dues to contractors and states along with renewed focus on Make in India, sops to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and a financial package. Manufacturing and skill-based employment mapping will give a fillip to the bleeding Indian economy staring at a contraction of 10.5% 2021 according to Fitch ratings," he said.
Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.
Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint.
our App Now!!