150 districts may go into complete lockdown...What's behind the Center's plan?

As the sequel of the peaking COVID-19 cases in the country, India is surfaced with the strong possibilities of witnessing another episode of complete lockdown not for the entire country but for the districts across the country that have been reporting a surge in a positivity rate of cases. The Central government has been mulling to impose the lockdown in around 150 districts from May as its measure to break the chain of transmission. 

The Center has formulated the fresh lockdown drive amid the exponential rise of the COVID-19 cases in the country. As per the drive, around 150 districts with the COVID-19 positivity rate of over 15% will likely go through the complete lockdown. The centre has planned to bring these districts under the ambit of strict lockdown as the health systems in these districts are seen to be under stress due to the second wave of the pandemic. 

According to reports, the measures of complete lockdown were recommended by the Union Health Ministry at a high-level meeting on Tuesday and the Center has decided to take the consultations from the respective state governments before imposing the lockdown. The lockdown proposal has a suggestion of permitting extremely emergency services in these districts and while the proposal may further be refined and revised, the health ministry had highlighted the urgent need to tackle and curb the spread of the pandemic in high caseload- high positivity districts. 

Speaking to a news agency, a senior health official said, "Our analysis suggests stringent lockdown measures in districts with very high positivity rate are essential to break the chain of transmission over the next few weeks." The reports say that the officials in the health ministry had expressed concerns over the surging positivity rate in certain states during the second wave of the pandemic which had pushed the health infrastructure to witness a grim challenge in containing the cases. 

The proposal for the complete lockdown in around 150 districts has come when several states have already imposed tiers of lockdown and restrictions in their territories to curb the spread. Some of the states which had reported a heavy caseload had imposed night curfews and tight restrictions. Though the health ministry has made the proposal to impose lockdown in 150 districts, the list of these districts is yet to be released. 

It is likely that these districts would see the complete lockdown during the entire month of May. The development has come after the Central government on Sunday advised the state governments to impose stringent containment and lockdown measures in districts reporting either more than 10 percent positivity rate over the last one week or more than 60 percent occupancy of beds supported by oxygen or in ICU. 

On Sunday, the Union Health Ministry has issued a warning to the states that the existing infrastructure may not be able to cope with the ongoing surge and said that there was an urgent need for states to consider strict Covid management and control measures in surge areas to break the chain of transmission. The experts say that the severity and adversity posed by the pandemic had pushed the government to call for the support of the complete lockdown, which was kept as a last resort. 

Recently, while addressing the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the country must keep the lockdown as the last option and rather must concentrate on the micro containment zones. According to reports, India has been reporting over 3 lakh cases daily for almost a week now, and even states with smaller populations have been reporting a sharp surge and the country's daily positivity rate currently stands at 20%. 

The active caseload has been increasing consistently since mid-March. Eight states - Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh have been reporting more than 1 lakh active cases each and these states together account for 69% of the total caseload in the country. India has reported over 3.6 lakh fresh cases in the last 24 hours, which had become a global high. 

According to the Union Health Ministry, India's total cases tally stands over 1.79 crore and the country has reported the highest single-day spike in fatalities with 3,293 deaths in the last 24 hours till Wednesday morning 8 am. The highest spike of deaths had pushed the country to breach the 2 lakh mark in the death toll. It has now reported 2,01,187 deaths and the active cases currently stand at 29,78,709 while the country had recorded 1,48,17,371 recoveries.