New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Tuesday justified its decision to announce a 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown in March at a four-hour notice, saying it took into account “global experience” and “need for consistency in implementation of containment measures”.
Replying to a question from Congress leader Manish Tewari, Minister of State (Home) Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha that since most of the state governments and Union Territories (UTs) resorted to partial or full lockdown in their respective regions based upon their assessment of the situation, there was a need for a “consistent approach”.
Rai said that experts, keeping in view the global experiences of countries which have been successful in containing the spread of Covid-19, recommended that effective measures for social distancing should be taken to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Any mass movement, he said, could have led to further spread of the infection. He, however, did not clearly state what compelled the government to announce the nationwide lockdown at a four-hour notice.
“Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease. Any mass movement would have spread the disease very fast among people in all parts of the country,” Rai said.
“Taking into consideration the above facts, the global experience and the need for consistency in the approach and implementation of various containment measures across the country, a nationwide lockdown was announced on 24 March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country,” the minister said.
Rai stated that soon after the outbreak of novel coronavirus on 7 January, several measures like progressive tightening of international travel, issuing advisories for members of the public, setting up quarantine facilities were also taken by the Modi government to contain the spread of the infection.
‘Lockdown helped create additional health infrastructure’
Responding to whether the lockdown was successful in containing the pandemic, Rai said that India blunted the spread of infection by considerably expanding its health infrastructure.
“The period of lockdown helped the nation create much required additional health infrastructure,” Rai said in his reply.
Giving out details, the minister said dedicated isolation beds for Covid-19 patients have increased by 22 times and ICU beds by 14 times compared to March.
“Similarly, laboratory capacity for Covid testing increased nearly 10 times during this period. Also, limited indigenous manufacturing capacity for masks, personal protective equipment, ventilators, etc. at the time of lockdown, was also enhanced to attain self-reliance,” he said.
He also said the lockdown helped prevent 14,00,000-25,00,000 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths in the country
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