FICCI appeals to 25 States not to impose lockdown; medical fraternity and experts divided

FICCI has urged twenty-five Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors, to avoid lockdowns even partial ones since it would push the economy into a downward spiral

Lockdown

FICCI President, Uday Shankar, has written a letter to twenty-five Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors, urging them to avoid lockdowns and to desist from even imposing partial ones since it would push the economy into a downward spiral. While some health and public policy experts supported this view not to impose a lockdown, others felt that lockdown will be the effective answer to break the chain and curb the spread of the pandemic.

Dr Girish Chandra Vaisnnava, a medical practitioner from Delhi-NCR region and Director, Internal Medicine at Yatharth Super Speciality Hospitals, who advocates a lockdown said the present situation is more grim as compared to last year. It is known now that the virus, rather than being surface-borne is now airborne, he added.

“With the UK, Africa and Brazil strains, the daily figure could soon more than double here and reach four to five lakh patients per day, if strict measures are not taken immediately. Drastic steps should be taken by the government which simply means that we need to go in a complete lockdown,” reiterated Dr Vaishnav.

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Dr J A Jayalal, National President of Indian Medical Association (IMA) does not concur with this view at all. He said, “I am of the opinion that lockdown is an escape route for the government. All studies have proven that a lockdown has never been helpful to overcome the disease and it has only postponed the disease. Curfew and night curfew are only an eye-wash and 100 per cent vaccination is the only and more ideal solution than a lockdown”.

Meanwhile, Dr B B Wadhwa, President of Delhi Medical Association blamed the government for failing to augment the health system in the country. “A complete lockdown is not a solution as many poor people have to earn their daily bread and butter,” he said. But Dr Wadhwa supported weekend lockdowns as a good step by the government. This will help to break the chain especially when Indians were not practising social distancing or properly masking themselves etc.

Public policy expert Mohan Shukla too was against a total lockdown. This could hurt the economy and be detrimental for foreign investors, who are waiting in the wings to enter India as an alternative to China. However, he pointed out that even during the weekly lockdown or a Sunday lockdown, all states should publicise their clear-cut policy on what is permitted and what is not to avoid confusion. Since there are no helplines in any state, businessmen and industrialists are a troubled lot since there are no clearly laid out guidelines for them to follow.

The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India and it has hit hard. Every day, on an average, two lakh or more cases are being reported from different parts of the country.

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Small towns and villages, which were earlier left untouched by the pandemic, are reporting high number of COVID-19 cases on a daily basis. Lockdown can indeed break the chain but also have a huge adverse impact on the economy, including another wave of reverse migration. So, we have to ask, what is more precious, human lives or economy? Another pertinent question is whether to impose a lockdown and let people die of hunger or let the figures rise and let people die of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), New Delhi too has urged Lt Governor Anil Baijal in the capital to impose a 15-day lockdown to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19. In the letter, CAIT has assured the support of the traders to maintain seamless supply of essentials but the lockdown was necessary to break the chain of transmission.

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