New Delhi, April 14: As India witnesses an unprecedented surge in Covid caseloads, voices for a short-duration national lockdown or in severely-hit states/UTs grew louder on Wednesday and experts urged the Centre to immediately plan and execute a 15-day lockdown to break the chain of infection and manage the second wave of the pandemic.
The fact is that when India went into a 21-day national lockdown in March last year, the total number of active Covid cases was a mere over 500. The lockdown then failed to stop the surge as the first wave happened after that period and devastated businesses and normal life.
This time, as India reported 1,84,372 new Covid-19 cases, setting another grim one-day record and taking the overall tally to 13,87,825 on Wednesday, a short-duration lockdown is what is the need of the hour to stop the menace, experts told IANS.
"As the hospital services are up to the brim and more and more people are dying, vaccination has also been halted because of lack of access at many centres. This is an emergency situation for a shorter national lockdown," Dr Rahul Bhargava, Director, Department of Clinical Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Fortis Hospital, stressed.
"This way, we will be able to break the virus chain and get a breather to vaccinate more and more people as hospitals services will be back on track," Bhargava said.
Experts also cited the example of Amaravati lockdown model for breaking the deadly chain of transmission.
Amaravati in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region saw a rapid surge in February the state government first imposed a week-end lockdown on February 18 to break the chain of virus transmission. But this effort failed as cases were still going north.
It was followed by a stricter lockdown for seven days, from February 22 to March 1, and was extended for another one week from March 1 to March 8.
The lockdown successfully broke the chain of transmission and active caseload decreased.
According to Neha Gupta, Infectious Diseases Specialist at Medanta - The Medicity, Gurgaon, strict social distancing norms are very important at this juncture, which will help in stabilising the overburdened healthcare services as hospitals are facing bed crunch and shortage of anti-viral drugs.
Bhargava added that if a short-duration lockdown is not planned, hospitals services will be choked, Covid patients will not get beds and receive necessary supplies on time.
"We need an urgent lockdown for at least 15 days. It may not be as harsh as the last one but there is a dire need for implementing this right away," he told IANS.
The demand for a lockdown came as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that lockdown, not the country's vaccine rollout, is the main reason for the decline of Covid-19 infections in Britain.
"The numbers are down -- of infections and hospitalizations and deaths. But it is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers... has not been achieved by the vaccination programme," he told Sky News.
"People don't, I think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we're seeing," he added.
The prime minister said the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.
India, too, needs a quick lockdown to break the chain of transmission, rising at a rapid rate with no respite in sight.