With the number of Covid-19 positive cases rising rapidly in the last few days, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued a statement saying it may have to “rethink” the lifting of lockdown after April 14 for the state to completely and effectively rid itself of the contagion. The state has also taken a call to beef up its testing infrastructure and create more labs.

“We are in a sensitive situation right now. Our case load has increased rapidly due to the cases related to the Tablighi Jamaat event reported in the last few days. In such a situation it is difficult to say whether we will be able to to lift the lockdown after April 14,” additional secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi said in a press briefing on Monday.

“Even if one positive case remains it will not be appropriate to lift the lockdown as all the gains that we have achieved during the 21-days will be lost and we will get back to square one. At this point it is premature to take a call and we will have to rethink it,” Awasthi said.

The tally of positive cases in the state touched 305 as of Monday evening with Tablighi Jamaat attendees making for more than half of the cases at 159. It has also increased the number of affected districts in the state from less than 20 to 35 now. More than 1,200 TJ attendees are in quarantine right now across the state and around 1,600 have been identified in total.

Awasthi also said that the government has now decided to beef up its testing facilities for which 10 existing testing labs will be upgraded to Biosafety Level -3 (BSL-3) status and 14 more testing labs will be opened in 14 medical colleges across the state that currently do not have testings labs. Also, sample collection centres will be opened in district hospitals in districts that do not have medical colleges, so that the state does not have to seek help from outside for its testing needs. The funding will be done by the Covid Care Fund floated by the UP government as a dedicated fund to manage the COVID-19 crisis in the state.

With a population of approximately 23 crore, UP is still testing only more than 400 samples each day while Mumbai that has emerged as the epicentre of the disease in India is alone testing close to 1,200 cases every day.

In the briefing, Awasthi also said that the government is coming across a lot of objectionable videos on many social media websites especially on video-sharing app TikTok. “I would appeal to everyone to not misuse the app or they could be booked even if they as much as forward the video. We will take the matter up with the company as well as the central government on how this could be reined in,” he said.

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