Dr Balram Bhargava, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s top health institution, has said that the districts where a large number of coronavirus cases have been reported, need to be closed for another six to eight weeks.
According to an international news agency Reuters report, in an interview, he said that in districts where the test positivity rate is more than 10 per cent, the lockdown should last for six-eight weeks.
Before lifting the lockdown, the positivity rate needs to be below 10 per cent – Dr Bhargava
Dr Bhargava said in the interview, “The high positivity districts should remain (shut). If they come to 5% from 10% (positivity rate) we can open them, but that has to happen. That won’t happen in six eight weeks, clearly”
Giving the example of Delhi with a positivity rate of 17 per cent, he said that if Delhi is opened tomorrow, it will bring a big disaster.
Positiveness rate exceeds 10 per cent in two-thirds of districts
Significantly, out of the 718 districts in the country, nearly two-thirds, that is, 533 districts, have a test positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. Therefore, to accept the formula of Dr Bhargava means to keep a lockdown in two-thirds of the country for six eight weeks.
Dr Bhargava admitted, there was a slight delay in responding to the crisis.
In his interview, Dr Bhargava did not criticize the central government but admitted that there was a delay in responding to the crisis. “I think the only discontent we have was there was a slight delay accepting the 10% (recommendation), but that did happen,” he said.
He said that on April 15, the Covid-19 National Task Force had recommended the government to impose lockdown in districts with a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent.
No differences between government and ICMR
Refusing to have any differences between the government and the ICMR, Dr Bhargava said that there is no dissatisfaction in the ICMR and the thinking of both the agency and the policymaker is one. He said that large gatherings should not be accepted.
The central government continues to hold back from imposing national lockdown
Before Dr Bhargava, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria has also recommended imposing a lockdown across the country. However, the central government has a different view on it and till now the government has been avoiding the imposition of lockdown at the national level. He has placed the responsibility on the states.
Apart from this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also asked the states to use lockdown as the ultimate weapon.