Key Urban Centres Mostly Remain Under Lockdown

India’s major urban centres mostly remained shut without any relaxations amid concern that five big cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Ahmedabad — accounted for nearly 60% of Covid-19 deaths. The PM had said the shutdown would be partially eased in areas that had managed to curb the spread by April 20. “This has made it virtually impossible to open these cities to any activity,” a senior government official said. “These urban centres seem to be in for a long haul even after May 3.”

There was no industrial activity in Delhi and NCR — Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad.

It also remained closed in Mumbai, Pune, Indore and state capitals such as Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. The governments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have, respectively, designated Noida and Gurgaon as red zones while allowing relaxations in rural areas in their states.

Delhi, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have extended comprehensive lockdowns until the first week of May. The first nationwide lockdown was imposed from March 25 to April 14. It was extended to May 3, with the proviso on relaxations after April 20, provided districts passed the ‘litmus test’ of curbing infections.

While the death count of the five urban centres is a worry, equally concerning is the widening geographical spread of the coronavirus, said a government official. The number of Covid-19-affected districts rose by almost 10% from 370 on April 14 to 408 on April 19. This figure has been rising consistently, having stood at 280 districts in the first week of April.

While Mumbai leads with more than 130 deaths, Pune and Indore have reported fatalities from Covid-19 in excess of 50 each. Delhi’s death toll is nearing 50. Ahmedabad has reported nearly three dozen deaths.

Some states have been unable to pass the litmus test that the Prime Minister had mentioned in his speech on April 14, the official said. He had appealed to states to ensure that their coronavirusfree districts remained so and that others didn’t become hotspots in the future.

“The coronavirus has spread to more districts over the past week in states such as Telangana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” a senior official said. Officials, however, cited states such as Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Manipur, which had succeeded in making some or all of their districts coronavirus free. The four weeks of lockdown from March 24 until April 19 has slowed the speed of infection growth, officials said.

The doubling of cases slowed to 7.5 days over the past week from 3.4 days before the lockdown, said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry.

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