Kerala to extend 21-day COVID-19 lockdown in 3 phases

State govt-appointed 17-member panel advocates 3-phase lifting of lockdown

Published: Thursday 09 April 2020

India has entered the last of the three weeks of a nationwide lockdown, invoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The count of cases positive to the virus SARS-CoV-2, meanwhile, have steadily risen.

This has prompted many experts as well as state governments to advocate an extension of the lockdown. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik April 9, 2020 even announced an extension of the measures until the end of the month. He also urged the Union government to do the same.

But the Centre hasn’t yet decided on whether to extend the shutdown — it comes at considerable cost to the economy and livelihood of citizens, especially the poor — or whether to stick to the 21-day period.

Even if it is not extended, business-as-usual may not be the best idea. Measures may be needed to lift the lockdown in a calculated, controlled way. Again, there have been no communication from the central government on this.

Kerala, however, have taken a step in the direction.

The southern state had the first few cases in India, starting end-January. For a long time, it had the most number of cases in the country — several citizens of the state live outside the country, especially in the Persian Gulf area — until Maharashtra crossed it.

Even now, Kerala has more than 300 cases — among the highest in India; however, it has been able to contain its death toll at two.

The state government had constituted a committee of 17 experts fropm various fields to dwell on how to lift the lockdown and avoid economic hardship, famine and law-and-order Issues.

The panel suggested that there should be efforts to keep the case load at a level that its healthcare system can manage. Restricting movement from other countries and states would remain critical.

The experts put forward a three-phased withdrawal plan for the districts.

Phase 1

  1. Where there have been no more than a single case in the April 7-14 week 
  2. Where the increase in the number of people under home surveillance have not been more than 10 per cent
  3. No hotspots from April 7-14

Phase 2

  1. Where there haven’t been more than one new case in the fortnight prior to the date of review
  2. Not more than 10 per cent increase in the number of those under home surveillance from the date of previous review
  3. No COVID-19 hotspots identified by the health department

Phase 3

  1. No new case in the two weeks before the date of review
  2. A decrease of more than 5 per cent in the number of persons under home surveillance since previous review

A district here is considered a unit with marked boundaries and an executive magistrate.

The committee also recommended that, until June 30:

People from outside entering a house should wear a protective mask

Wedding ceremonies should not have more than 25 people

Air-conditioning be not used in offices, personal vehicles and public transports (unless needed for medical purposes or storage of perishables).

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