Covid-19 second wave: Weekend lockdowns not effective, says Centre; asks Maharashtra to ramp up healthcare system

Maharashtra has imposed night curfew and weekend lockdown till April 30. (IE Image)

As the nation witnesses exponential growth in the number of daily Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a high-level meeting with the Chief Ministers of all the states on Thursday. A 50 high-level multi-disciplinary public health teams were formed and deployed at 50 districts in the three states (Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh) with a maximum number of fresh Covid-19 cases.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that weekend lockdowns have a limited impact on containing the spread of Covid-19 infections and the state’s focus should be on strict and effective containment strategy. On March 15,  Maharashtra had reported 16,620 cases, accounting for 63.21 per cent of the daily new cases in the country and 47, 000 new cases in the last 24 hours.

After the Maharashtra government announced night curfew and weekend lockdown a senior official talking to the Indian Express said that the decisions were taken after an assessment by the public health department as the commons failed to comply with Covid appropriate behaviour.

The state of health infrastructure, availability of Covid-19 beds, the requirement of oxygen has further prompted the individuals to take the step as according to projection, by April 17 the health system would be overwhelmed. The oxygen consumption by Covid patients also reached a saturation level due to the surge. Currently, the state has an installed capacity of 1, 200 metric tonnes but according to projections, the requirement who exceed the optimum capacity by April 17. The Centre has also asked the state to ramp up its healthcare infrastructure further and be prepared for worst-case scenarios.

The Centre also pointed out to the state government that lockdown should not the solution for the rising cases. Lockdown in the initial phase should have been used to prepare the infrastructure, improve PPE capacity, oxygen beds and now when these things are in place it should be utilized to treat the rising number of patients.

The Centre also laid stress on better defining containment zones based on contact listing, digital mapping of cases and contacts and delineate the buffer zones. Need for a rapid response team to develop an operation plan to manage these containment zones was also highlighted by the Center. The states were asked to review the cases coming from the containment zone and outside it to ensure that the zones are better defined or expanded if required. Simply quarantining people with Covid case in the family is not sufficient, stringent control measures should also be implemented, the Centre said.

The Centre also flagged that enforcement action for Covid appropriate behaviour, liking imposing fines has come down drastically in months despite a surge in cases, except in Delhi and Karnataka and asked the states to ensure stricter means to make people comply with the norms.

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