Exiting Lockdown

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Past two weeks have seen the number of Covid-19 positive cases growing at an exponential rate. In past several days, the numbers have grown at upwards of 8000 daily. So much so, India is now the fifth worst coronavirus-hit country in the world, It surpassed Spain on Saturday. The country had earlier moved past Italy, one of the worst victims of the disease. Only positive takeaway is the number of recoveries which has been close to 50 percent so far. From nine states on May 1, the number of states where the tallies of confirmed cases is in four or more digits has reached 19. Maharashtra continues to top the charts in terms of total confirmed cases. Other states with high tallies are New Delhi and Gujarat.

The government has extended the lockdown till June 30 but this involves a phased plan to unlock Indian economy. From Monday onwards, malls, hotels, restaurants and places of worship have opened. There is, however, no such relaxation in red zones, the areas with the most number of coronavirus cases. Curbs have also been removed on movement of people and goods between states. Night curfew lingers, with the timings changed to 9 pm-5am from the earlier 7 pm-7 am.

Upcoming weeks are expected to be more challenging in the country. The cases are expected to grow at a faster rate. According to a top World Health Oorganization expert the risk of the explosion of COVID-19 cases remains even though there has been this hasn’t happened so far. The lockdown that was expected to flatten the curve hasn’t done so. Instead, the shutdown has hit the economy hard leaving millions of people jobless. It has also disrupted the supply lines and forced migrant workers to head home. This has forced the government to open up the economy, hence the steps for a phased exit from the lockdown.

As things stand, India has to brace for a tough trade-off: it is a choice between more Coronavirus cases and the hunger. But given the current state of India’s economy and the millions of people who live below poverty line, the country can hardly afford a longer lockdown. It has to start re-opening. So also J&K which has so far been deprived of even the relaxations allowed in other parts of the country during the previous lockdowns. One can only hope that the local administration will follow the relaxation schedule in the new lockdown in letter and spirit.

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