Rajat Sharma

Do not expect lockdown to end after April 14, situation demands it should continue

akb3010With the end of the 21-day nationwide lockdown fast approaching (April 14), there have been numerous queries as to whether the lockdown will be extended. Many people are stuck, away from their families because of the lockdown. Millions of daily wage and migrant labourers are waiting for factories to reopen.

Chief Ministers of Telangana, Tamil Nadu, UP and Maharashtra have called for extending the lockdown. Of course, the final call will be taken by the Prime Minister after he makes an assessment of various factors in front of him. He is the best judge in the present circumstances.

But I can tell you, do not expect the lockdown to end after completion of three weeks. It’s more likely to continue. Hotspots like Noida, Mumbai, Indore and Bhopal, where the number of cases are on the rise may witness even a more severe lockdown. We should be prepared to face such an eventuality.

The situation has been worsened by hundreds of workers of Tablighi Jamaat, potential carriers of the virus, going underground and police in different states are trying their best to trace them. Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Tuesday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to all underground workers of Jamaat to either come out or face criminal charges.

In the national capital, the Coronavirus figures would have been under control but for the Tablighi Jamaat. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is doing his best and is fully cooperating with the Centre to contain the spread of the virus. He is particularly worried about scores of Jamaat workers who have gone into hiding. The number of Coronavirus cases in Delhi has touched 550 with 25 new cases coming in and two deaths reported on Tuesday. This number could have been on the lower side if the Jamaat incident had not happened.

Kejriwal says, his government is making preparations to handle up to 30,000 Coronavirus cases. Other state governments are also making plans, but the sooner the potential carriers of the virus are quarantined, the better it will be for the rest of the people. Two hotspots, Dilshad Garden and Nizamuddin, have been completely sealed off as of now.

Reports of Tablighi Jamaat workers creating unruly scenes in Delhi’s Narela and UP’s Firozabad have come in. At the quarantine centre in Narela, some of the workers urinated in bottles and poured it on the floor, while several others defecated in the corridor. At the Firozabad district hospital, Jamaat workers spitted on the windows and walls and the local authorities had to take stern action.

I again appeal to the Tablighi Jamaat leaders to rein in their workers, ask them to come out of hiding, and follow quarantine rules. Timely treatment of Covid-19 will save their workers and their contacts, otherwise India will have to face the full brunt of the pandemic, with thousands of deaths taking place every day.

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