Health ministry backs unlocking, says lives important, livelihood too

In the last two weeks, Delhi, after seeing a decline in total cases, is witnessing another surge
On Thursday, the day the country registered a record number of fresh coronavirus cases (nearly 84,000), the health ministry defended the government's decision to unlock many more businesses and public transport, saying that “lives are important but so is livelihood”. 

Earlier, when various government departments were batting for opening up and allowing movement of people, citing economic concerns, the health ministry was all for extending the lockdown to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 infection. 
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, while addressing a press briefing on Covid-19, said the government had adopted a graded approach to unlocking and opening of economic activity. “Prior to such opening, the government has ensured that prerequisites are in place — adequate testing, hospital infrastructure such as oxygen and ICU beds and protocols for clinical treatment.” 

As part of Unlock 4.0, state governments cannot impose any lockdowns outside of the containment zones without consulting the central government.

India, meanwhile, registered the highest single-day increase of Covid-19 cases and inched close to the four-million mark. At the end of April, India had less than 40,000 coronavirus infections. The cases have grown almost hundredfold since. 

According to health ministry data, five states accounted for more than half of the total active Covid-19 cases in the country, with one-fourth being from Maharashtra alone. 

In the last two weeks, Delhi, after seeing a decline in total cases, is witnessing another surge. The national capital has seen a 50 per cent increase in daily Covid-19 deaths on a week-on-week basis from August 13 to September 2, data showed. Karnataka has seen a 9.6 per cent increase for the same period in daily average deaths.

India is recording 49 deaths per million people against the global average of 111. And while the number of tests has increased to 1.1 million in a single day and 40.5 million so far, a large number of these are rapid antigen tests, which are not considered the most accurate. 

Mask in the car

If you were stopped by the Delhi Police while driving alone in your car and not wearing a mask, you probably did not deserve to be fined. Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan clarified that the directives issued by his ministry did not state that a person travelling alone in a car needs to wear a mask. 

However, Delhi Police maintained that it has been following the Delhi Disaster Management Authority guideline on the matter, which mandates the use of masks in public places. 

“We have authorised our officials to collect challans — Rs 500 the first time you are without a mask, even inside a car, and Rs 1,000 the second time,” a senior Delhi Police official said.

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