The recession-hit economy has left the Union government with no choice but to reopen for business
India’s Unlock 2.0 will begin from July 1. On Friday, there has been another record spike this time of 13,586 new coronavirus cases in a single day pushing the tally to 3,80,532.
The death toll is at 12,573, the eighth highest in the world. While the virus appears to have plateaued or declined in much of Europe, India and South America are currently experiencing surges.
In Delhi, the first set of rapid antigen detection tests for Covid-19 returned a 6.5 per cent positive rate. Given that this test throws up a large number of false negatives, this is a significant figure. Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain and MLA Atishi have both been preyed upon by the coronavirus.
The recession-hit economy has left the Union government with no choice but to reopen for business, but instead of taking the graded approach, the Delhi government failed to exercise discretion on this account. It also, for a while, underreported its dead, as well as caseloads, as did Telangana and Maharashtra.
The only silver lining is that chief minister Kejriwal has now made the more definitive RT-PCR test cheaper, available at Rs 2,400 rather than Rs 4,500. The Haryana chief minister is pondering a fresh lockdown in Gurugram, apart from Faridabad, Sonepat and Jhajjar.
Tamil Nadu, too, entered a new phase of lockdown. But a lockdown in itself is no solution, the only way to go forward, as Kerala has shown, is intensifying testing and contact tracing. India has now incrementally built its testing capacity to three lakhs daily, but worries remain as to its adequacy.
Health is a state subject, but Covid-19 has exposed our state governments’ lack of technical strength and their dependence for that purpose on the Centre.
In a nod to its principle of operating as a unit and the fact that its people do travel to and from Delhi for business and work, potentially carrying the virus, home minister Amit Shah has suggested adoption of a common anti-Covid strategy for the National Capital Region.
The Haryana and UP governments have been asked to provide details of beds, oxygen cylinders, ICUs and ambulances by July 15. One wonders if that is a date set too far.