Niti Aayog Member VK Paul on Monday said the mortality rate in the Covid-19 pandemic in India is not "severe" and the impact of the disease is "very very limited" keeping in view the size of the country.
He was speaking at a session, held virtually, on a theme ''Covid-19: India Fights Back - Strategy and Way Forward''. Adviser (health) at the Niti Aayog Alok Kumar was also part of the interactive discussion.
On the Centre's move to impose various curbs to contain the coronavirus spread, Mr Paul -- who is also heading a panel to coordinate efforts to tackle the virus outbreak -- added the 21-day lockdown was the "decision of the century" and the purpose has been achieved to a large extent.
"We are very very certain that it (COVID-19) is not an outbreak that is causing severe mortality in any part of the country. We also have not heard anecdotes that intensive care units (ICUs ) are filled up in government or private hospitals like what had happened in Europe where all ICUs were full," he said.
Stating that the coronavirus outbreak has spread faster than any other previous pandemic, Mr Paul said India should be prepared to handle 1,50,000 new cases per day, similar to what Italy experienced at its peak.
"Our disease is very much limited compared to the size of our nation because we resorted to early and effective steps. However, this doesn't mean the situation will remain same if we are not vigilant," he said.
On the lockdown decision, the Niti Aayog member said, "Once you create extreme decision like that then as a society we have moved to a new normal, we have adjusted to a new reality."
"The lockdown was the decision of the century. The purpose of lockdown has been achieved to a large extent," he added.
The 21-day lockdown period is ending on April 14 amid a strong possibility that this will be extended further. "In a calibrated manner, we will have to open our economic activity," he said.
In a word of caution, he said people must ensure that social behaviour and lifestyle changes for the good.
"By strengthening our healthcare , we have to make sure that we are ready for potential healthcare challenges in the future," Paul said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 10 am on Tuesday, the last day of 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown, amid indications that the shutdown could be extended by another two weeks with certain relaxations to boost economic activities.
According to the Health Ministry, 796 new COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 9,152 and deaths 308.