As the nation entered the 13th day of a 21-day lockdown on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked his Council of Ministers on just how to do a calibrated exit from the confinement, especially since the cases related to the Tablighi Jamaat Centre and the country’s own tally of COVID-19 positive cases are ballooning.
At a meeting of the Council of Ministers, just before a first-ever Cabinet meeting over videoconferencing, Mr. Modi asked for suggestions, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that any rollback of the lockdown on April 14 will only be partial and with many caveats.
“Prime Minister Modi asked all of us for suggestions, including after speaking to district-level officials and stakeholders on how the rollback of the lockdown could be effected without a huge impact on positive cases. Actually, the calculations for our peak cases and its timing are now awry as they have to factor in the Tablighi Jamaat cases, which are still being followed up,” said a Minister who was at the meeting.
“The peak for India, which was supposed to have manifested itself this week has now been pushed to the next week or more because we are still tracking the contact chain of the Tablighi Jamaat cases,” the source said.
“We have been asked to think in terms of micro plans for districts and specifically focus on the harvest season now on as well as how best procurement can be done from farmers. Also, he asked us for suggestions on how some industry can be restarted where labour can work with adequate social distancing safe guards,” said the source.
Government sources told The Hindu that all sorts of suggestions were at the discussion table, but it seemed as though reopening of schools and colleges would not be done in a hurry, not least because many are now shelters for the homeless and migrant labour and quarantine centres.
Even railway and air traffic are unlikely to resume anytime soon, possibly in a staggered manner.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath extended Section 144 (which bars assembly of more than four persons in public) to the entire State till April 30.
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