In what was largely expected, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced an extension of the earlier 21-day nationwide lockdown, till May 3rd. According to PM Modi and various other state chief ministers, there have been multiple requests from the state governments to extend the lockdown, and the same has been considered.
The Prime Minister also laid out several preparedness measures that India has already undertaken as preventive measures to fight any possible surge in infections. Testing capacity has been ramped up, with over 220 labs now testing coronavirus samples across the country. Data too indicates, that India’s average sample testing has ranged around 15,000 samples per day for past week or so, in tandem with most global standards.
Additionally, the country now has over 100K coronavirus dedicated beds. The Prime Minister highlighted that global norms require 1500-1600 beds as soon as a country touches 10,000 infections. While India has crossed 10,000 infections, the number of beds in India has already crossed 100K, highlighting central and state government’s preparedness. There are over 600 dedicated hospitals for coronavirus treatments, the Prime Minister added.
In terms of supply of medicines and basic staple, PM Modi highlighted that there is sufficient supply and stockpile to meet India’s long term demand.
The Prime Minister also gave a roadmap on how possible relaxations can be allowed in certain districts. The government is planning to color mark districts in red, orange and green, indicating the severity of infections in that order. While more detailed guidelines will be announced tomorrow, restrictions on economic activity are expected to be lifted in some districts across the country. Over 400 districts in India continue to report 0 infections, and those could be the ones to see first lifting of restrictions.
Experts have suggested, that even though India’s testing measures may not have been adequate, timely measures such as the nationwide lockdown have helped India tide over, what could have been a much worse situation. Despite being a densely populated country of over 1.2 billion, India has fared exceedingly well in containing the spread, specially looking at how developed nations such as the US and all of Europe, continue to reel under the virus scare. US now has over half a million infections, with no signs of the infections curve flattening.
More to follow…