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Coronavirus Outbreak

Unlock 4 Guidelines: Metros Can Resume, No Lockdowns Outside Containment Zones, Experts Urge Extra Vigilance From People

India recorded just under 79,000 new COVID cases on Sunday, which is a new world record for the largest number of single-day cases. From the last four days, the country is recording more than 75,000 cases but the government prepares to further open up the economy. NDTV speaks with experts to know should it be wise to postpone Unlock 4 or India should open up?

Unlock 4 Guidelines: Metros Can Resume, No Lockdowns Outside Containment Zones, Experts Urge Extra Vigilance From People
Highlights
  • India's COVID cases has been the highest in the world since Aug 4: WHO
  • India for the 4th consecutive day recorded more than 75,000 cases
  • On Saturday, government announced new steps to ease COVID restrictions

New Delhi: The central government on Saturday announced series of new steps to ease COVID-19 restrictions in India as part of the fourth phase of unlocking. As per the guidelines metro trains will be allowed to resume services from September 7 in a graded manner, while social and religious congregations of up to 100 people will be permitted from September 21. On the other hand, schools, colleges, swimming pools and indoor theatres still remain closed.

The guidelines also said that there is no need for lockdowns outside containment zones and has allowed more activities outside the containment zones, however, has kept some things unchanged. However, vulnerable persons – those above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years – have been advised to stay at home. This phase, called “Unlock 4”, will be in effect till September 30.

Also Read: COVID-19 And Pregnancy: What Are The Risks? Doctors Explain

Here’s the full list of activities that are allowed in Unlock 4 guidelines and what’s still not allowed:

What’s Allowed:

1. The metro trains have been allowed to resume services after a five-month gap from September 7, however, the resumption will be gradual and the use of masks and smart cards has been made mandatory

2. The government also said that states may allow up to 50 per cent of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to schools at a time for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work

3. Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones only on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers

4. Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 people, with effect from September 21 but the organisers have to ensure social distancing norms and the wearing of masks is followed

5. Open-air theatres will also be permitted to open with effect from September 21

6. Bars, which have been shut since March, will be allowed to open from September 1

7. There will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission, approval, e-permit required for such movements

Also Read: India Crosses 3 Million COVID-19 Cases, Top Doctors Explain The Spike In Numbers

What’s Not Allowed:

1. International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by the home ministry, will not be allowed even in the fourth phase of unlocking

2. Schools, colleges and other educational and coaching institutions will remain closed till September 30, apart from relaxations for students of Class 9 to 12,

3. Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres and similar places will also remain shut in Unlock 4

4. States and union territories will not be permitted to enforce lockdowns outside containment zones without the Centre’s permission

India’s Coronavirus Status And What Experts Think

On Monday (August 31), India reported 78,512 new coronavirus infections, slightly fewer than the previous day when it posted the biggest, single-day tally of infections of any country in the pandemic (78,761 cases). With the record surge, the total cases in the country now stand at 36,21,245. What’s worrying is the fact that India has been recording over 75,000 cases for the last few days. According to the World Health Organization, India’s daily coronavirus case count has been the highest in the world since August 4. However, India is unlocking itself and experts urge extra vigilance from people.

Also Read: 6 Months On, A Recap Of How The Coronavirus Pandemic Unfolded

Talking about India’s coronavirus cases and ever-increasing numbers, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman Managing Editor, Medanta adds,

It is not surprising, as we unlock, more and more people are starting to head out, in some cities and states, traffic is back to 70-80 per cent, so this spike will happen. The basic problem right now with our country is that people have started to become careless, and that’s what is the biggest issue. If we will not be going to mask, not maintain social distancing, we will see consequences. Another new thing we have noticed now is that the younger people who feel less vulnerable, they go out in large numbers and get infected and at home, they infect their parents. A large number of these younger population is asymptomatic, when parents get tested for novel coronavirus it is then you realised that it is the kids who got the infection home. So, the message for today that is very important is that younger people should be very responsible – they should wear a mask, follow all necessary social distancing and hand hygiene. We cannot remain lockdown forever, so yes, unlocking will happen, but it is our responsibility to be extra careful. We all need to realise that we all are in trouble; we cannot let our guard down.

India in the fourth unlocking phase has allowed metro services and there is also no restrictions on the inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods, however, on the other hand, we have coronavirus reality, where the numbers are increasing every day. Should government think of postponing unlock 4 and put in place restrictions? Talking about this, Dr N. Hiranandani, President ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India) says,

No, I don’t think the government should delay unlocking 4. There is a need to unlock, we need to take care of the whole situation, we need to be careful about the increasing cases and be extra cautious, however that doesn’t mean we continue to lockdown. We have been barely able to restart the economy – I think, both Delhi and Mumbai need to start opening up. We also need to start hearing about Mumbai suburbs opening just like Delhi Metro. We need to understand that there are lot of ordinary people who live far off from the places of their work, they use these services on a daily basis and they cannot afford to come by car or other services, they need to come back to work at some point, many of them have also been thrown out of jobs. Anything locking up or anymore locking will prove disastrous for our country, so we need to restart and unlock, however, having said that, we need to be extra-extra cautious and follow all the necessary precautions to safeguard ourselves from getting infected.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: Here’s India’s Current COVID-19 Status, Using The ‘R’ Rate Method

Dr Hemant Thacker, Physician Jaslok Hospital says,

We were very optimistic at the end of the third week of this month but the last five days have certainly have put back the pressure on us, we are again seeing an uptick of infections and clamour for beds. What is worrying is that we are seeing people coming in with more lung involvement than before when it comes to coronavirus patients. Delhi and Mumbai were doing pretty well in terms of COVID-19, I don’t know if this is the new strain of infection or because people have started to gather in large numbers because of festivities, we really don’t know as if now. But one thing is sure that if we throw caution to the winds, we will pay the price. We need to think of livelihoods but we just cannot afford to think of social gatherings or festivals to throw away the boredom because that is transmitting the virus. We all need to learn to live with COVID, unless we learn to live with the mask, live with the caution and social distancing, we will not be able to win this war.

In India, an additional 971 new deaths brought the overall death count to 64,469, according to the Union Health Ministry on Monday morning (August 31). Till date, 27,74,802 patients have recovered from the infection in the country, taking the recovery rate to 76.62 per cent. Currently, there are 7,81,975 active coronavirus cases, which account for 21.59 per cent of the total caseload.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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