The increase in coronavirus cases is expected to stabilize soon: Niti Aayog member, VK Paul

NEW DELHI: The continued increase in the number of people with positive results is expected to stabilize soon, member V K Paul said Sunday.

He also said that the reason behind the government's decision to extend it two more weeks after May 3 is to consolidate the achievements of the first and second phase of restrictions.

In an interview with PTI, Paul said that a sudden outbreak in the number of coronavirus cases is still amenable to a containment strategy.

The reason (behind extending the blockade until May 17) is that the profits from the blockade must be consolidated in the country ... the real objectives of the blockade were to suppress the virus transmission chain. So we will lose that, if we end it abruptly, he said.

Paul, who heads an Empowered Group on medical equipment and a management plan to address the coronavirus outbreak, said that while the situation is good, the opening will be done with caution and care.

Responding to a question as to whether India has slipped into the community transmission stage, he said: Essentially, we believe that (the continued increase in coronavirus cases) is still susceptible to a containment strategy.

He also noted that India is not close to the type of coronavirus case escalation that it witnessed during the pre-closure phase.

In the pre-closing stage, we were doubling our number of cases every five days. Before that, even every 3 days. Now, we are doubling in 11-12 days.

So overall, the spread rate has decreased, but yes, the number has not yet stabilized. But we hope it stabilizes soon, said Niti member Aayog.

According to the Union Ministry of Health, the number of fatalities rose to 1,301 and the number of cases rose to 39,980 in the country on Sunday.

The Center extended the blockade two more weeks after May 3, when the second phase of these restrictions was scheduled to end.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced a 21-day national blockade starting March 25, which was then extended for two more weeks to contain the spread of the virus.

However, several experts have warned that the blockade is severely affecting the economy, and many rating agencies and industry bodies have predicted a sharp drop in the country's economic growth rate for the current fiscal.