Parts of India, Africa re-instate lockdown to manage Covid-19 clusters
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As some countries are easing out of lockdown and reopening their borders, others are going for tougher measures and re-imposing lockdown in certain clusters with an alarming resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
The state of Tamil Nadu in India will impose a “complete” 12-day lockdown to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases which, on Monday, reached over 46,000.
Tamil Nadu is the second worst hit state in India, after Maharashtra.
Around 15 million people will be affected by the strict Tamil Nadu lockdown, from June 19 to 30. It will be enforced in Chennai and other parts of the state including Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur.
Officials from Chennai International Airport have clarified that flights will continue operations to and from Chennai during the lockdown.
India is the fourth worst hit nation across the world, after the United States, Brazil and Russia. It has reported over 330,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and has registered nearly 10 thousand deaths. But on Tuesday, Prime minister Narendra Modi said that “India is among nations with the lowest number of deaths due to Covid-19”.
With more than 100,000 cases, Maharashtra state, home to Mumbai, has the largest number of reported Covid-19 infections with more than 110,000 cases and over four thousand fatalities.
Delhi is the third most affected state in India. It accounts for more than 40,000 cases.
The Supreme Court said last week that conditions in India’s capital were "horrendous, horrific and pathetic".
India's economy -- Asia's third-biggest – has been badly hit by the lockdown and the government has sought to revive growth by allowing most economic activities to resume.
But now the country is bracing for the monsoon and its deadly annual onslaught of mosquito-borne illnesses, to be faced by already overstretched public health workers.
“COVID-19 has left us helpless, now the monsoon will make things even more difficult,” said Dr Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent at Mumbai's Rajawadi Hospital.
The problem, according to Dr Thakur, is that many season illnesses have symptoms that are virtually indistinguishable from coronavirus, such as fever, breathing difficulties and loss of appetite.
This involves more testing, more isolation beds and more protective equipment which will be needed to ensure that patients are diagnosed correctly and not exposed to coronavirus as well.
"We will need to treat everyone as if they were a COVID-19 patient," said Thakur. "Every precaution will have to be taken."
Re-instating lockdown works
On Tuesday, Botswana lifted a lockdown reinstated on 12 June in Greater Gaborone to contain a sudden surge in the number of cases. 16 infections were reported in one hospital last Friday.
The director of health services, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae, said that “risks posed by Covid-19” in Greater Gaborone have since decreased.
“[Out of] a total of 16 new suspected local cases, only 10 have been confirmed to be negative whilst the results on the six remaining are still pending," he said on Monday evening.
Botswana has reported a total of 60 confirmed infections and one death.
Despite fears over fresh clusters, many countries are making moves towards semi-normality. The European Union (EU) has even launched an app Re-open EU - available in 24 languages - to help travellers find out which EU countries they can travel to.
But Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warns that “now is not the time to relax”.
“Looking at the characteristics of the virus, looking at what now emerges from the different countries in terms of population immunity," she said in an interview to the UK’s Guardian. "The virus is around us, circulating much more than in January and February."
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