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Covid-19: Modi Government Fights Pressure to Block India as Coronavirus Deaths Rise | India News


NEW DELHI: Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on states to only consider blockades “as the last option.” Now everyone from their political allies to top business leaders to the chief medical adviser to the president of the United States, Joe Biden, sees them as the only way to stop the world’s worst virus outbreak.
The debate has been complicated by Modi’s decision last year to impose a nationwide lockdown without warning, sparking a humanitarian crisis when migrant workers fled to rural areas on foot. While Modi wishes to avoid such criticism again, particularly after his Bharatiya Janata party failed to win an election in West Bengal when the votes were counted on Sunday, even his party-led states are ignoring his advice.
“One of the problems is this false narrative that it is a total lockdown, which amounts to an economic disaster, or not a lockdown, which is a public health disaster,” said Catherine Blish, infectious disease specialist and health expert. Global from Stanford Medicine in California. “What is happening now is an economic and health disaster. If a large part of your population gets sick, that is not good for your population or your economy. ”

In the past week, television channels and social media have been inundated with grim scenes of crowded crematoria and desperate pleas for oxygen in hospitals. On Tuesday, the country reported more than 357,000 new infections to exceed 20 million cases, as well as 3,449 deaths.
The Indian rupee has become Asia’s worst-performing currency this quarter, since it was the best in the previous quarter, as foreigners took out about $ 1.8 billion from the country’s stocks and bonds. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index fell about 1.5% as investors became cautious amid the deadly outbreak.

India’s richest banker, Uday Kotak, who heads the Confederation of Indian Industry, urged the government to deploy the military to help care for patients and take “the strongest national measures, including reducing economic activity. to reduce suffering. ” “We should pay attention to expert advice on this issue, from India and abroad,” he said.
This represents a departure from India’s top business leaders. In April, a poll of confederation members showed they were against the closures and wanted a quick vaccination. However, in the past month, the collapse of the health infrastructure and the rising death toll have revealed the extent of the crisis. The lack of adequate doses of vaccines has only added to the chaos.
Reasonable closures
Although policymakers have signaled that they are ready to take steps to support growth, economists say failure to flatten the virus curve could put pressure on monetary and fiscal policies at a time when most of the conventional space already available has been used.
The most immediate and effective way to break the chain of transmission is to keep people far enough apart so that the virus cannot jump from one to another. Some experts, including Anthony S Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease physician, say a temporary shutdown is important.
But others say a complete national lockdown is not possible and would be disastrous for the poor, who have already suffered the most during the outbreak. The central government has left it open for states to decide on local closures, and places like the national capital Delhi and the financial center of Mumbai have imposed restrictions, although they are less stringent than last year.
People who live from day to day must go out every day to find something to eat or earn a day’s wages, said Kim Mulholland, an Australian pediatrician and group leader for infections and immunity at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.
As hospitals scramble for oxygen and bodies pile up in crematoria, a general confinement can only add to the misery. A sudden loss of livelihoods can once again lead to a rush of workers from cities to their home towns and villages, which can also help spread the virus inland.
Instead of a strict lockdown, experts said, local governments could halt activities where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
“It would absolutely cut down on indoor retail, restaurants, stores, and everything else that brings people together indoors,” said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “I would absolutely ban any large congregation outside, although it is difficult in places in India where things can get quite crowded naturally.”

Times of India