Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has in a series of tweets and interviews has called for a complete countrywide lockdown till the end of the month as theCoronavirus is poised to enter Stage 3 when it spreads through communities and becomes uncontrollable.
Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a janata curfew from 7 p.m till 9 pm on Sunday, Chidambaram said it was not enough. There had to a continuous curfew to contain the virus.
In an interview to a local Tamil channel, Chidambaram who refused a face to face interaction and preferred to talk on the telephone. said “this is the time for social distancing”. Ideally it should be voluntary. But in a vast country like India, janata curfew might be effective for a day, but it had to be enforced till month-end. ‘Even if five per cent fail to adhere to the curfew, the numbers will be more than crores and they can infect crores of others”.
He cited the World Health Organisation director-general’s statement that every suspected case should be isolated and tested and said “there should be no hesitation in moving towards that step”.
On how to counter the economic impact, especially on the daily wage earners, Chidambaram said the Prime Minister, instead of forming a committee under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaranan to monitor the situation, should act swiftly after consulting a couple of economists. “This is time for action, not consultation”, he said.
He said India should learn from the experience of other countries like China and Italy and adopt the best practices and act.
Asked about steps taken by the Tamil Nadu Government, Chidambaram said each State should do its best so that it had a national impact. As for Tamil Nadu closing borders with neighbouring States, he said that would not be enough. Even inter district movements should be restricted.