Amid speculation that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao may reimpose lockdown in Greater Hyderabad, minister for education Sabitha Indra Reddy thinks it is a bad idea.
She argued that reimposing lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak will hurt the informal sector, including street vendors and daily wagers.
Many of them would lose their wages during the lockdown because their survival depends on daily cash flows. The lockdown will again bring to halt most of the economic activity that has slowly picked up. Small business owners will be particularly hard hit, she said.
Telangana had been witnessing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, with nearly 1,000 new infections per day, prompting the Telangana government to likely reimpose complete lockdown. Telangana is one of several states that has seen a surge in new Covid-19 cases after the state had rolled back complete lockdown.
Telangana had recorded its biggest ever single-day increase in new cases since the first infection in early March. On Thursday, the state reported 975 new cases taking the corona tally to 15,394 and six new deaths taking the total number of fatalities to 253. Of the 975 new cases, a whopping 861 positive cases were reported in GHMC limits. After the reopening of the economy, the coronavirus spread has been alarming with higher positive-test cases and increasingly strained hospitals.
Health Minister Etela Rajender on Monday said Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is mulling to impose complete lockdown in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. A decision to this effect will be taken in a Cabinet meeting, he had said.
However, Sabitha Indira Reddy insisted that lockdown is not the solution to contain the spread of the virus. She was of the view that the lockdown will have severe economic impact and the burden will disproportionately fall on the working poor. She said the most vulnerable are casual workers who do not have access to work on a regular basis.
She said instead the government should continue to put in place robust measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Further, she said the Telangana government is committed to fight the epidemic.
The measures initiated so far have not yielded positive results with the State reporting three-digit growth in corona cases. Home Minister Mahmood Ali and three TRS MLAs, a growing number of police personnel, doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and health workers have contracted the virus despite the measures.
However, Sabitha Indira Reddy, said “Since the outbreak, the Telangana government has taken the most comprehensive and strict prevention and control measures. We should continue with these measures, but complete lockdown will deprive people of their livelihood. Small traders and daily wagers will be impacted severely,” she said. “By taking stringent measures, we should safeguard the safety of life and health of the people. People should take all precautionary measures to fight the virus. Observe the necessary precautions to combat Corona,” she said.
There is a growing criticism that the state government was not testing enough. Covid-19 testing continues to fall significantly short of the levels compared to states like Kerala or even Jharkhand. As things stand today, the state health administration has so far collected 79,231 samples for COVID-19 testing which is about half the tests conducted by states like Jharkhand. The KCR government had to bear the brunt of Opposition criticism that Telangana has miserably failed to ramp up testing compared to states like Karnataka and Maharashtra.