Telangana Minister Explains Why Lockdown Over COVID-19 Should Be Extended

KT Rama Rao's father, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the lockdown beyond its scheduled end of April 14.

Not just India, the world is not prepared for a pandemic of this size, KT Rama Rao said.

New Delhi:

The world - including its most affluent nation, the US -- is not ready for the containment of coronavirus and for India, the only chance is to "delay" it for as long as possible, Telangana minister KT Rama Rao said on Tuesday. Mr Rao's father, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the lockdown beyond its scheduled end of April 14. KT Rama Rao on Tuesday said the extension should be for at least two weeks and then the situation can be reviewed.

Asked if he would prefer a gradual lifting of the lockdown after the two-week extension,  Mr Rao told NDTV that in the US, the state of New York, "the financial capital of the world", has only 11,000 ventilators when they need 30,000.

"Not just India, not just Telangana, but the world is not prepared for a pandemic of this size, this proportion. The only way we can contain this in our opinion, is to delay it as much as possible," Mr Rao told NDTV.

Telangana's proposal to the Centre, he said, was that "The longer we extend this lockdown, the better it is in terms on containment. And beyond 30 April, we have to take stock of the situation and see where we are in terms of stages" of the transmission of the virus.  

Several states, including BJP-ruled Assam and Karnataka have expressed concern about the lifting of the lockdown, indicating they favour a phased process. The Rajasthan Chief Minister, Congress's Ashok Gehlot, too, favoured a phased withdrawal. 

Awanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, said: "When we open the lockdown it will be after we have ensured that the state is corona free. If even one corona positive person is left, it will be very difficult to open the lockdown and that is why it may take time."

The Centre is yet to decide on the matter. 

While government sources said it is considering the states' proposal, yesterday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said a decision would be taken "in the national interest" at the right time. 

"We are monitoring the world situation every minute. A decision will be taken in the national interest. A decision in this regard will be declared at the right time," Mr Javadekar said, adding that an empowered group of officials was assessing the situation.