Hotspots in focus as PM talks exit strategy with CMs

Coronavirus Lockdown: Hotspots in focus as PM Narendra Modi talks exit strategy with CMs on April 27

A homeless woman rests in the middle of a deserted road outside the Howrah station in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI

Ahead of his crucial Monday interaction with chief ministers on the next course of action after the 40-day lockdown ends on May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday warned against any complacency in India’s “people-driven” fight against coronavirus.

His word of caution came on a day when India reported the highest single-day rise in coronavirus infections — 1,975 cases (according to the health ministry). Maharashtra and Gujarat have the highest number of patients in the country. 

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The Centre and several states had relaxed lockdown norms to revive economic activities after April 20. While different states are responding differently to the idea of extending lockdown, the broad consensus is that relaxations can be eased in green (non-Covid) zones, but caution is required in orange and red zones with modest and aggressive spread.

A total of 170 districts in the country are in the red zone, of which 47 have been divided into various clusters. Some of the hotspots are Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu; Thane, Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra; Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot in Gujarat; Lucknow, Agra and Noida in Uttar Pradesh; Indore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata and New Delhi. 

The Centre is keen on strict vigil in hotspots and will take feedback of its inter-ministerial teams which visited West Bengal, Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The inputs from states will be vital in a decision on extending lockdown.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Guaba on Sunday held a video conference with the chief secretaries and DGPs of states and Union Territories to review preparedness. He said that states with a heavy load of cases should focus on effective implementation of lockdown measures and containment strategy.

Telangana wants to continue curbs till May end, while Andhra Pradesh is pitching for more relaxations. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel favour scaled-down restrictions. 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wants the exit plan to be graded. “It is easy to clamp lockdown but difficult to remove it,” he said, batting for a larger role for the state in implementing it.

Modi urged people not to be overconfident. “There should be no negligence at the local level or elsewhere,” he said in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday.

The Centre has already announced a number of relaxations in sync with its priority on life as well as livelihood (Jaan bhi Jahan bhi). Modi had earlier focused on saving lives (Jaan hai to Jahan hai).