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National lockdown inevitable, RaGa tells PM Modi in letter

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

NEW DELHI: Lack of a clear Covid-19 and vaccination strategy while declaring premature victory against the virus are government failures that have made another “devastating lockdown inevitable “, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Rahul urged the Prime Minister “to do everything in your power to stop the needless suffering” as the Covid tsunami continues to ravage the country.

The Congress leader said while a lockdown will come at a huge economic cost but due to the Centre’s mismanagement of the pandemic, Covid-19 is growing “explosively”, making another lockdown inevitable.

“I am aware that you are concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown. Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisors are suggesting,” said Rahul.

Mr Gandhi’s letter comes as India struggles to contain a devastating second wave of Covid infections. This morning the country reported over four lakh new cases in the previous 24 hours.

Active cases are now over 35.6 lakh – well over 3.5 times the earlier record high.

Experts believe the second wave has been driven, in large part, by mutated variants – such as those from the UK, and double and triple mutations found in Delhi, Maharashtra, Bengal and other states.

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The double mutant shows an increased transmission rate and can affect children too.

How infectious the triple mutation is, or how deadly it is, is still unclear and requires further study. But there are only 10 labs in India that are involved in virus genome studies.

For now, the centre has classified it as a “variant of interest”, rather than “variant of concern”.

The mutations have also led to increased urgency in vaccinating people; India launched its vaccination drive in January, but it has stalled in recent weeks over a shortage of doses.

Vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have struggled to keep pace with the demand, but the centre last month released additional funds to help them scale up production.

Starting May 1, the centre has allowed everyone over 18 to get vaccinated.

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Mr Gandhi also called on the centre to “act with compassion” and provide critical financial and food support to vulnerable groups who remain badly affected by the lockdown from March last year.

On Wednesday Mr Gandhi attacked the centre over lack of transparency in foreign aid contributions; India received hundreds of tonnes but questions have been raised over distribution.

Last week the centre issued some clarifications on this matter, saying the delay was due to “compatibility problems” and logistical issues in distribution.

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