The Telangana government on Thursday ruled out the possibility of imposing a lockdown, saying the restrictions would lead to a collapse of the state’s economy, the Hindustan Times reported.

The decision was made at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, the first one to be held since April 19, when the chief minister went into quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19.

Rao said there was no question of a lockdown in his state, as that could lead to a “panic situation”. “But, we will identify the areas with a greater number of cases and declare them as micro-level containment zones,” he told officials.

The chief minister said there were over 2,50,000 to 3,00,000 workers from other states working in Telangana, and the state could not afford to see them leave again like last year, when the lockdown had sparked a countrywide mass exodus of migrants.

“Moreover, there is bumper yield of paddy in the state and procurement is on at 6,144 centres in the state,” Rao said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people involved in the process. What will happen to the workers who came from other states and are working in the rice mills if lockdown is imposed? The entire paddy purchase process will come to a standstill.”

Besides, Rao claimed that Covid infections had not dropped in other states, despite the new restrictions imposed there.

Several states have shut down and restricted the movement of people as a strong second wave of the coronavirus pandemic arrests normal life in the country. India on Friday recorded 4,14,188 new coronavirus cases, the highest rise in daily cases and the third instance, after May 1, when the count rose by more than 4 lakh.

Telangana, too, has witnessed a surge in infections in recent weeks, with the state reporting 5,892 new cases and 46 deaths on Thursday. Authorities have also found the presence of very infectious Indian strains of the coronavirus in the state, along with two other places, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, according to PTI.

“The major strains identified from the samples of south India (AP, Karnataka, Telangana), from the positives of the April month data, are B.1.617 and B.1, which are very infectious and also spreading in the younger age groups apart from the adults,” Andhra Pradesh Covid Command and Control Centre Chairman KS Jawahar Reddy had said on Thursday.

Increase oxygen supplies, Rao tells PM Modi

Meanwhile, Rao on Thursday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone about the immediate supply of vaccines, oxygen and remdesivir injections in Telangana, the Hindustan Times reported.

The chief minister informed the prime minister that the oxygen supplies allocated to the state from Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu and Bellary in Karnataka had not been supplied so far.

He urged the Centre to increase the state’s oxygen supplies to 500 metric tonnes per day from the current 440 metric tonnes. “Since Hyderabad is a medical hub, people from the bordering states also depend on Hyderabad for medical treatment,” Rao told Modi.

Likewise, only 4,900 vials of remdesivir were available against the requirement of 25,000, the chief minister said, adding that the prime minister should ensure the supply of 200,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine per day.