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According to a government statement, Modi emphasised that several state governments, district administrations and experts had pressed for extension of the lockdown. He, however, said he would hold another round of discussions with the chief ministers on April 11 before taking a final decision. Last week, Modi had told the chief ministers to formulate a common but staggered exit strategy to lift the lockdown.
“The Prime Minister underlined that the situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’. The country has been forced to take tough decisions, and must continue to remain vigilant,” the statement quoted him as saying. This was Modi’s first interaction with leaders of political parties after announcing the 21-day lockdown on March 24.
According to sources, the PM underlined that he had not come across any opinion which suggests that lifting the lockdown at this juncture is “advisable”. The view that is emerging so far, he said, is that lifting the lockdown is not going to be “simple” and the norms for ensuring social distancing will have to be enforced strictly.
Coronavirus curve up, lockdown impact may take a while
Two weeks into the lockdown period, there is no indication yet that the largest quarantine exercise in the world is having the desired effect of slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
Scientists using computer models to measure the spread of an infectious disease say they are yet to notice a “flattening of the growth curve”. This does not mean that the lockdown has been a wasted exercise, however. It is too early to draw such a conclusion.
Pooled testing planned in zero-case districts to get the real picture
Pushing for increased testing, health authorities are all set to do pooled testing in some of the 436 districts of the country from where no case of COVID-19 has been reported. This will be done to get a “realistic estimation” of the spread of the disease, highly placed government sources said, and the areas will be selected based on information available.
Into the third week of the 21-day lockdown, there is realisation in the government that without adequate testing in the COVID-free districts, there is an inherent risk in taking any decision on the lockdown. That is why information from two databases — from Aarogya Setu app and surveillance — will be merged to choose the areas where pooled testing will be done among symptomatic people. These tests will be done through RT-PCR, the nucleic acid-based test that India has been using from the start, and not the recently introduced faster option of serological tests, sources said.
‘Will have many body bags if we don’t behave’: WHO chief on Trump’s criticism
The head of the World Health Organization gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism and suggestions that Washington could review its funding for the agency.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity and a halt to “politicization” of the global health crisis, specifically urging China and the United States to show “honest leadership”.
Fact Check: Tracking the coronavirus curve in India
The first three cases of novel coronavirus infection in India happened on January 29, and none thereafter for the next more than one month. Fresh cases began to emerge in the first week of March but for more than two weeks, it came in trickles, even as many other parts of the world were battling with the emergence of thousands of cases every day.
In the last few days, however, the growth of numbers in India has begun to prominently resemble what is so characteristic of the spread of an infectious disease — an exponential curve. If we ignore the first three cases in Kerala and January, it took India 13 days after the emergence of a fresh case on March 2 to cross the 100 mark. Over the next 14 days, India had more than 1,000 cases. By April 7, or in another nine days, the numbers had crossed the 5,000 mark, and at this rate, India is on route to touch 10,000 cases in about a week.
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Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?