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COVID-19 second wave: Most of India should remain under lockdown for 6-8 weeks, says ICMR chief

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New Delhi, May 13: As India grapples with a worrying second wave of coronavirus infections, Dr. Balram Bhargava, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said districts reporting a high number of infections should remain locked down for another six to eight weeks to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

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In an exclusive interview to Rueters, Bhargava said that lockdown restrictions should remain in place in all districts where the rate of infection is above 10% of those tested.

"The high positivity districts should remain shut. If positivity rate come to 5% from 10% we can open them, but that has to happen. That won't happen in six to eight weeks, clearly," he said.

This is the first time a senior government official has stressed on the importance on a lockdown to curb covid spread.

Interestingly, Bhargava admitted to delay in response by the Narendra Modi government to the second wave. "I think the only discontent we have was there was a slight delay accepting the 10% (recommendation), but that did happen," Bhargava said.

Reportedly, the National Task Force on COVID-19 had advised the government to lock down areas with a 10% positivity rate or higher. However, Modi shied away states and said a lockdown should be used as "last resort" and the focus should remain on "micro containment zones".

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"We have to save the country from lockdown...States should focus on micro-containment zones," Modi had said.

Amid worsening situation, several states have enforced complete State-wide shutdowns while others have only implemented partial curbs on public places and the movement of people.

The call for nationwide lockdown is getting louder day by day with foreign figures, various political leaders as well as medical experts have argued for immediate implementation of a nationwide lockdown to curb the COVID-19 spread.

However, the central government had not responded to the demands.

Expressing concern over surging coronavirus cases in India, America's top public health expert and White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci also recommended a nationwide lockdown for a few weeks in India as an immediate step to contain the spread of the coronavirus as its deadly second wave shows no signs of ebbing.

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