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India: Govt to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions, ward off possible third wave

Web report/New Delhi
Filed on June 2, 2021
A health worker checks the body temperature of a woman as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 in India. Photo: AFP

Districts with less than 5 per cent positivity should open, Covid-19 task force chief says


The Indian government has come out with key ‘unlockdown’ criteria that will enable districts to gradually lift the current Covid related restrictions and ward off a possible third wave.

“In terms of preventing the third wave, it is very simple that districts with less than 5 per cent positivity should open up a little bit,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, and a member of the Covid-19 task force.

“They should open very gradually. They should ensure that the vulnerable population should achieve at least 70 per cent vaccination. If that has not been achieved, they should vaccinate them and then open up.”

At present, 344 of India’s 718 districts are reporting seven-day positivity of less than five per cent, which is much better than the figures last month. On May 7, just 92 districts had a positivity rate of under five per cent. Besides the under five per cent positivity rate and vaccination of 70 per cent of the vulnerable population, other key factors include community ownership of Covid-appropriate behaviour and care, according to the government.

However, Bhargava warned that India is in the midst of “a ferocious second wave,” although it is abating now.

“If we look at the data, in the first week of April, we had less than 200 districts that had more than 10 per cent positivity. And in the last week of April, we had nearly 600 districts with more than 10 per cent positivity,” he said.

“Today, there are 239 districts in the country which have more than 10 per cent positivity; 145 districts are between 5 per cent and 10 per cent positivity; and 350 districts, which is nearly half of India, have less than 5 per cent positivity. Therefore, we are moving in the right direction.”





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