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MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune's extended city limits, may implement a hyperlocal or granular lockdown plan, to contain the spread of coronavirus while allowing economic activity, said two government officials aware of the development.

Through this, the state government is looking at a lockdown model which is more fluid-- even at the street level. This would not only serve the purpose of saving lives, but also livelihood, said a government official studying the model for implementation.

India, which partially opened up its $2.9 trillion economy on 4 May, has seen its metro cities and major towns still under lockdown with most of economic activity suspended. On Monday, India completed 51 days of lockdown, which started on March 25, and has been extended twice.

"There is no denying that lockdown has limited the spread of covid-19, forcing social distancing. But this cannot go on forever. Hence, we need a solution wherein we can contain the virus' spread while allowing economic activity to continue," said a senior official from the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation which is also considering this option.

After tapering last month, India’s coronavirus trajectory has picked up this month, with new infections and deaths rising faster in India than in most other countries. With 22,171 cases, Maharahstra is leading in terms of number of active cases. Of these Mumbai alone reported 13,739 cases with 508 deaths. State's total death tally is at 832 as of Monday morning.

A hyperlocal lockdown could mean that a red or an orange zone need not necessarily be locked down completely. Instead only a particular road or street or locality where cases have emerged, could be sealed.

"Currently where an entire red or orange zone is shutdown, except for bare minimum shops being opened, a hyperlocal lockdown would mean only a particular region within the red or orange zone being shut down. This will allow economic activity to resume in other parts of these zones," said an official from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

He added that a hyperlocal lockdown is also the need of the hour because the coronavirus is here for some time and till then livelihoods cannot remain suspended.

"Till there is a vaccine developed, will have to learn to live with this virus and go about our livelihoods while being careful too. We need a better planning to deal with this situation," he added.

However, with hyper-local areas being structured in terms of establishments, such as hospitals, malls, educational institutes, residential complexes and even businesses, lockdown would have to be planned differently for different hyper local areas.

And in this planning, the government is relying on the scientific data-driven and artificial intelligence or AI supported approach to suggest extent of lockdown in a hyper-local area, covering lockdown across establishments, services and sectors.

"Based on predictive modelling and the way an area is populated with malls and markets located within the area, while also considering the age and related demographics of the area, one can predict how the virus' spread would increase in any location and take necessary action," the second official, quoted above, added.

A decision on implementing the granular lockdown is expected in a few days, the officials added, as India entered the final week of lockdown 3.0 which ends on 17 May.

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