via BBC News.com

The central government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, which the prime minister has called a “last resort”. Senior leaders fear the economic impact, after last year’s lockdown saw India’s output fall by a record 24% in April-June compared to a year earlier.

The human cost could also be severe. Last year’s 68-day national lockdown saw millions of India’s migrant workers make arduous journeys back to their home villages after they found themselves unemployed and running out of money.

The poor, especially undernourished children and pregnant women who rely on government programmes, found it difficult to access benefits. Immunization programs were halted, and those suffering from serious illnesses struggled to access crucial health services.

The Indian Express newspaper reports that India’s Covid-19 taskforce, which advises the government, is pushing hard for a nationwide lockdown to help subdue the devastating second wave.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said on Saturday that an “immediate” shutdown for a “few weeks” could break the chain of transmission in India.

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