The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday said that four more inter-ministerial central teams will go to Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai to review the situation amid the coronavirus outbreak. The situation in these cities is “especially serious”, the ministry added, according to PTI. These teams will be in addition to the six central teams already constituted.
“The situation is especially serious in major hotspot districts or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad and Surat [Gujarat], Thane [Maharashtra], Hyderabad [Telangana], and Chennai [Tamil Nadu],” the ministry said.
Till Friday evening, India had confirmed a total of 23,452 Covid-19 cases, but the Indian Council of Medical Research said at least 23,502 people have tested positive so far. The toll rose to 723, while the number of patients who have recovered stood at 4,814.
“The team that went to Indore earlier found that 20 out of 171 containment zones are [in a] critical [condition],” says Joint Home Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava during a media briefing on the situation in the country. “The team found that PPE [personal protective equipment] kits, masks and other safety equipment are available in sufficient quantity, and the security of health workers is being ensured.”
In Mumbai, Srivastava said the IMCT reviewed the slum areas of Govandi, Dharavi and Wadala and found that residents had to step out of their homes despite restrictions as they use community toilets. To alleviate this, the IMCT suggested that portable toilets should be set up.
In the Dharavi slum area, the administration has relied on home quarantine, but the central team suggested setting up of institutional facilities for 2,000 to 3,000 people. The team also suggested that testing should be increased and local volunteers should be roped in to increase surveillance.
The home ministry official added that all the central teams have sent their recommendations to the state governments.
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The ministry has already sent six teams to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal to inspect the lockdown measures during an assessment of the ground situation in select districts. The central teams are comprised of public health specialists and officials of the National Disaster Management Authority.
However, the home ministry added that a number of violations of the lockdown have been reported from some districts in the country. “These violations include incidents ranging from violence on frontline healthcare professionals, attacks on police personnel, violations of social distancing norms in market places and opposition to setting up of quarantine centres and so on,” the statement said.
In the same briefing, Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said 15 districts that earlier had cases have not had any in the last 28 days. The number of districts that have not had any new cases in the last 14 days has risen to 80, he added. On the lockdown, the Centre’s principal spokesperson KS Dhatwalia said it was too early for a decision on extension.
‘There would have been one lakh cases without lockdown’
Niti Aayog member VK Paul asserted that if no nationwide lockdown had been announced, there would have been one lakh cases in the country by now, PTI reported. The official said the Covid-19 outbreak in the country is under control. The lockdown was imposed on March 25 and will continue till May 3.
“If we go back to March 21, the cases were doubling in around three days,” Paul said. “An important turn came on March 23 after the Janata Curfew had happened. The direction changed and the doubling rate increased to five. By then, we had already put in place travel restrictions and had created an environment of social distancing.”
However, Paul’s claim contradicts a claim made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 11, which said that there would have been 8.2 lakh cases in India by April 15 had the lockdown not been imposed. The ministry had also said that there would have been 1.2 lakh cases if containment measures were put in place, but no lockdown was imposed.
Paul said that though there were some reverses in the first week of April, from April 6 the impact of the lockdown began to show. He added that this will continue to show until around the second week of May. Paul said India’s testing strategy so far “stood the test of time” and will be modified and re-calibrated according to requirement.
Paul said the doubling rate has now improved to around 10 days. A graph, presented by Paul, showed how the doubling rate has been reducing consistently since April 6.