Rise in coronavirus cases expected to stabilise anytime soon: Niti Aayog member VK Paul

New Delhi: The continuous rise in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus is expected to stabilise anytime soon, Niti Aayog member V K Paul said on Sunday. He also said the rationale behind the government’s decision to extend the lockdown by two more weeks after May 3 is to consolidate the gains of the first and second phase of restrictions.

In an interview, Paul said sudden spurt in number of coronavirus cases is still amenable to containment strategy.

“The rationale (behind extending lockdown till May 17) is that the gains of lockdown need to be consolidated in the country…Real goals of lockdown was to suppress the chain of transmission of the virus. So, we will lose that, if we abruptly end it,” he said.

Paul, who is heading an Empowered Group on medical equipment and management plan to tackle coronavirus outbreak, said that at the same time where situation is good, the opening will take place with caution and care.

Replying to a question that whether India has slipped into community transmission stage, he said, “Essentially, we think it (continuous rise in coronavirus cases) is still amenable to containment strategy”.

He also noted that India is nowhere close to the kind of escalation of coronavirus cases that it witnessed during the pre-lockdown phase.

“In the pre-lockdown stage, we were doubling our number of cases in every five days. Before that even at every 3 days. Now, we are doubling in 11-12 days.

“So, overall the rate of spread has diminished but yes the number still has not stabilised. But we expect it to stabilise anytime soon,” the Niti Aayog member said.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,301 and the number of cases climbed to 39,980 in the country on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The Centre has extended the lockdown by two more weeks after May 3, when the second phase of these restrictions was scheduled to end.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25, which was later extended by two more weeks to contain the virus spread.

However, several experts have cautioned that the lockdown is severely impacting the economy and many rating agencies and industry bodies have forecast a sharp dip in the country’s economic growth rate for the current fiscal.

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