INDIA: As India continues to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak amid a nationwide lockdown, some states are considering the option of extending the shutdown beyond May 3 while some others are in favor of restricting it to containment zones and their buffer areas and not the entire districts.

So far, Telangana is the only state that has extended the lockdown till May 7.

An official of Delhi government’s Covid-19 committee has suggested that the ongoing lockdown will have to be extended till mid-May for the epidemic curve to flatten as the national capital reported 2,625 infections including 54 deaths.

“India is still on the ascending limb of the epidemic curve and so, to ease the restrictions will mean the cases will multiply uncontrollably. And, Delhi has a large number of containment zones, so it will be wise to extend it,” Dr S K Sarin, chairman of Delhi government’s committee on combating COVID-19, said on Saturday, reports PTI.

“The lockdown will have to be extended till May 16 as that is when the epidemic curve is likely to start declining, which happens after the flattening of the curve,” he said.

Maharashtra, which has reported 7,628 cases & 323 fatalities is also considering continuing the lockdown. State health minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said that the lockdown will need to be extended if the spread of coronavirus is not contained. Maharashtra government is considering to extend the lockdown in Mumbai and Pune, the two biggest Covid-19 hotspots in the state.

Gujarat deputy CM Nitin Patel, said that the state government would “strictly follow the Centre’s guidelines”.

In Madhya Pradesh, officials have indicated that there is no likelihood of immediate relaxation in lockdown restrictions in the hotspot districts after May 3 as there haven’t been any signs of improvement.The number of new cases and new deaths continue to rise in the state.

In Uttar Pradesh, the administration has decided not to allow any public gatherings till June 30.

Officials in most BJP-ruled states have said they will follow the Centre’s directions on the lockdown.

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his Andhra counterpart, YSR Jagan Mohan Reddy, want the lockdown to be restricted to the containment areas and their buffer zones and not entire districts.

Significantly, three opposition-ruled states of Bengal, Odisha and Punjab seem to be in favour of extending the lockdown in affected areas after May 3.

 Bengal is likely to continue with the restrictions in the red zones in Kolkata, Howrah, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly, East Midnapore, East Burdwan and Nadia, government sources said. The Mamata Banerjee government is, however, unlikely to seek a statewide lockdown, sources added.

Odisha, too, thinks that complete lifting of lockdown is not advisable. State health minister Naba Kishore Das said relaxations should be given in a phased manner in areas not reporting positive cases and containment measures should continue in vulnerable areas. “The situation should be reviewed on May 1,” he said.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said the state governments should be given the freedom to decide on the lockdown depending on ground situations.

The Chhattisgarh government has written to the Centre to allow reopening of economic activities within the state as it has very few Covid-19 cases. 

The decision on whether to lift or extend the lockdown is expected to be among the issues likely to be discussed in Prime Minister Modi’s video conference with chief ministers on Monday.

Some chief ministers want lockdown to be lifted in districts not affected by the pandemic, even as differences remain on how the curbs should be enforced in the remaining areas.

Meanwhile, the total number of cases in India has reached the tally of 26,496 and 824 deaths. There are now eight states that have recorded more than 1,000 cases. Andhra Pradesh is the latest state to cross the 1,000 mark.