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Is India prepared to exit this lockdown in a rectified manner?

The government has decided not to extend the relaxation given to shops and establishments from the ongoing lockdown even after it was announced by the Central government. Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra has decided to stick to the current curbs till May 3. The Centre has issued the notification allowing standalone shops in rural and urban areas, but in the absence of a similar notification in Maharashtra, it will not come into effect. It is the prerogative of the state government to decide on the lockdown. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is of the opinion that lifting of restriction may further risk social distancing and lead to a rise in cases. Even if we extend the relaxation and allow stand-alone shops to operate, the police and revenue machinery will be engaged in implementing the lockdown orders to a great extent. Secondly shortfall of raw material and manpower will continue to persist until the lockdown is not lifted completely. Against this backdrop, the state government has decided to continue with the complete lockdown for one more week. But this won’t stop here, looking at the rise in COVID-19 cases, they might even extend lockdown beyond 3rd May, it may be extended by two weeks till May 18 for MMR and Pune where the positive cases are highest.

Meanwhile, the Congress party demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents a national plan to contain coronavirus as per the requirement under the National Disaster Management Act which has been invoked by the Centre to implement measures like lockdown and other restrictions to prevent its further spread. COVID-19 is not going to disappear on May 3, the virus is here to stay, and therefore we have to prepare ourselves and the people to live with the virus. And what is the best strategy whereby India can cope with this pandemic which appears to be unrelenting at the moment. The questions were raised by Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, who held a press briefing via video conference on Sunday afternoon to raise some other questions like, over testing, alleging it to be very low and sought an explanation from the government on its testing strategy.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his monthly ‘Man Ki Baat’ warned people against complacency in fight against COVID-19 and appealed for continued care and precautions. Prime Minister also said that all sectors of society and business were adjusting to the realities of a post-coronavirus world. He stressed that India, after meeting its requirements, has provided medicines to other countries. But he has not thrown any light on his plans for Indian citizens. A large part of Modi’s address was dedicated to thanking citizens for what he described as an active participation in the fight against COVID-19 and motivating front line workers such as health care staff, sanitation workers and policemen, among others.

Modi said people in the country don’t appear to trust its traditional knowledge — a situation he attributed to the country’s colonial history that he said led to lack of self-confidence. He appealed to the youth to make ayurvedic practices on boosting immunity popular with evidence-based research. The Prime Minister said due to the challenging times, when people are confined to their homes, businesses were adopting new technologies. As usual, his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ has all those topics other than what plans he has made for post corona lockdown.

COVID-19 infections are set to cross 3 million mark with 2,00,000 people dead globally. With over 800,000 people recovered, global recovery rates have gone up to 29%. India’s death toll due to COVID-19 has reached 26,496 with 824 people dead nationwide. Canada, US, Germany and Spain along with India seek to loosen lockdown restrictions as economies seek to heal from the devastating blow of the pandemic.

So far there is no medication or vaccine available for the treatment of COVID19, but Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is ready to start plasma therapy for eligible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients. A patient at Lilavati Hospital has been identified for the first plasma transfusion in Maharashtra, according to sources, and the process is likely to be carried out on Sunday. A plasmapheresis — removal, treatment, and return or exchange of blood plasma — machine has been installed at Nair Hospital. The convalescent plasma therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of a recovered COVID-19 patient to treat those infected. The therapy can also be used to immunise those at a high risk of contracting the virus such as health workers, families of patients and other high-risk contracts. Three units of plasma from recovered patients are already collected. Plasma is the almost-clear liquid left behind after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed from the blood. Last week, the state had sought permission from the Centre to start clinical trials of plasma therapy and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Kerala and Delhi have already got permission to conduct the trials.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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