Lockdown has little impact on containing COVID-19: Congress

COVID-19 positive cases went up from 28,000 to 1 lakh cases between May 3 and 18 when lockdown 3.0 was in force, says Singhvi

May 20, 2020 05:38 pm | Updated 05:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi. File

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi. File

The Congress on Wednesday questioned the Central government’s strategy of handling the COVID-19 pandemic through lockdown and gave out statistics to argue that it had little impact on containing infections.

Addressing an online press conference, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said COVID-19 positive cases went up from 28,000 to 1 lakh cases between May 3 and 18 when lockdown 3.0 was in force.

Mr. Singhvi slammed a report of an expert of the NITI Aayog that predicted no fresh COVID cases post May 16 based on earlier calculations of the rate of growth of infections.

“India’s experience on account of an unplanned, knee-jerk and a blanket lockdown has probably been the opposite. Is the government running on autopilot? Is it shamelessly misleading its people without any apology and contrition?” he said.

He alleged that decisions during the crisis were being taken at the level of an individual, sidelining various committees and task forces. India was lagging behind many countries when it came to COVID-19 investigations and testing - only 1.67 investigations were being conducted for every 1000 people.

“Let me quote Michael Levitt, a professor of structural biology at Stanford Medical School and a Nobel laureate, who said, ‘There is no doubt in my mind that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor’. So, he says lockdown is a huge mistake and those countries which have been applying them will be harshly judged,” Mr. Singhvi stated.

Economic stimulus package

The party also reiterated its position on the economic stimulus package . It said it was too little in the face of growing unemployment and the slump in the economy because of the continuing lockdown.

Mr. Singhvi said, “India's unemployment rate is currently at a record high of 27.1%, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) as of May 3. The new data shows India's unemployment figures are four times that of the U.S. The CMIE data shows that of the 122 million who have lost their jobs, 91.3 millions were small traders and labourers. But a fairly significant number of salaried workers – 1.78 crore salaried and 1.82 crore self-employed – have also lost work.”

He added, “Furthermore, more than one-third of the Indian households may run out of resources in another week and will then face distress without assistance. Most of the above are attributable to the superficial, ill-planned nature of the lockdowns. The cost-benefit ratio of the lockdowns is there for all to see.”

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