Lockdown lifted as experts say community transmission has been established in India

Lockdown lifted as experts say community transmission has been established in India

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With the country preparing itself for Unlock Phase 1 from today, the uncertainty over the lockdown that persisted for over two months, is more or less over. But India is now the seventh most-affected nation in the global coronavirus tally, with over 1.9 lakh cases and 5,400 deaths.

The latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs have not only continued with previous relaxations of lockdown measures, but have also provided a roadmap on how and when the remaining curbs would be rolled back.

This allows businesses and industries to finalise their activity plans for re-starting of work. The government’s order on lifting of curbs on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods will further unlock the battered Indian economy.

Several states are opening up with caution after being empowered to restrict certain activities or put suitable curbs if they deem it necessary for containment of the virus.

States and union territories will also be free to regulate movement for public health reasons, provided they give wide publicity to the restrictions in advance.

In Maharashtra, under the “Mission Begin Again”, according to the revised guidelines issued on Sunday, all markets, market areas and shops, apart from malls, will be allowed to open from June 5 on odd-even basis.

While all private offices can function with up to 10 per cent their staff strength as per the requirement from June 8 with others working from home.

The guidelines stated that this will exclude COVID-19 containment zones.

Schools in remote areas without internet connectivity and unaffected by the virus should reopen in June, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The Uttar Pradesh government, while extending the coronavirus lockdown till June 30, said on Sunday that the guidelines for relaxations in the state during this period will be as per the MHA’s advisory issued a day earlier.

All government offices will operate with 100 per cent workforce, while staggered timings will be followed: 9 am to 5 pm, 10 am to 6 pm and 11 am to 7 pm to contain the spread of coronavirus.

In fresh containment rules for housing societies, the Noida administration stated that unlike before, if an individual tower reports coronavirus cases, the entire society will not be sealed.

The Delhi-Noida border will remain closed for public because of rising number of Covid-19 cases in the national capital, the administration said, a day after the MHA allowed intra and inter-state movement of goods and people.

However, there shall be free movement of people between Haryana and Delhi, beginning Monday.

Delhi is among the worst hit by the pandemic, with the national capital on Sunday recording over 1,200 fresh novel coronavirus cases, bringing the total reported cases in the national capital to 18,549, with 8,075 recoveries and 416 deaths.

Meanwhile, the Centre has come under heavy criticism from three major medical professional associations for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A joint statement issued by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, and Indian Association of Epidemiologists on May 25  says that India is already witnessing community transmission.

This is in stark contrast to the Narendra Modi government’s claims that there is no community transmission in the country yet.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs will meet on June 3 for the first time after the lockdown was imposed two months ago. The committee will closely scrutinise the home ministry’s various notifications and steps taken during the entire lockdown period.