The Congress leader, Mr. P Chidambaram,on Thursday urged the government to order an 'immediate lockdown of all our towns and cities for 2-4 weeks' in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The former Union Home Minister was referring to Wednesday's statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which all countries were urged to 'isolate, test and treat every suspected case' and trace every possible contact made by suspected COVID-19 patients.
'After WHO Director General's statement yesterday, there should be no hesitation in ordering an immediate lockdown of all our towns and cities for 2-4 weeks,' Mr Chidambaram tweeted.
'Even after we have witnessed what is happening in Italy, Iran and Spain, why is the government refusing to take the logical step of a lockdown?' he asked, adding, 'Some states that are ahead of the centre should lock down their towns and cities'.
Italy, Iran and Spain are among the worst-hit countries by the COVID-19 pandemic outside China.
According to the WHO, there are over 35,000 cases and 2,900 deaths in Italy. In Iran, where 255 stranded Indians tested positive, over 17,000 cases have been reported. Spain has nearly 14,000 cases.
The Italians and Spanish have instituted unprecedented region-wide lockdowns affecting millions. Calls for a similar lockdown in India, aided by banning large gatherings under Section 144, were made Wednesday by a group of businessmen who wrote to the Prime Minister.
'Since ICMR's (Indian Council of Medical Research) random sample testing has revealed that there is no community transmission (Stage 3) so far, this is the moment to announce a temporary lockdown and contain the disease at Stage 2,' Mr Chidambaram said.