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Two cops wearing coronavirus-themed helmets charge a biker during an awareness programme amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Bangalore on Tuesday

NEW DELHI, APRIL 1: As India’s Coronavirus count grew by 146 patients on Tuesday, a Union Health Ministry official appeared to shift culpability on individuals, angering public health experts who said the Government might be preparing the ground to blame the public.
The Health Ministry had up to 8.30 p.m., on Tuesday recorded a total of 1,397 Coronavirus cases, among whom 124 have recovered and 35 have died. Kerala recorded the highest rise with 32 new Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, followed by Uttar Pradesh (19) and Maharashtra (17).
A Health Ministry official briefing the media linked the increase in numbers ~ a spike of 227 fresh patients on Monday ~ to the lack of people’s support. “The reason for this increase is that in some locations, people’s support was not available, and the numbers rose abruptly,” said Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal.
“I have said this earlier ~ in this battle against COVID-19, we will only be as much successful as we get support from the community,” Agarwal said. “If a single individual does not give us support, the entire society can suffer. I appeal again this is a joint war. We have to work together.”
At earlier briefings too, Agarwal had emphasised the need for individuals to cooperate through social-distancing measures and the lockdown, saying without cooperation from every individual, the Government’s efforts to fight the outbreak could be pushed to “zero”.
Sections of public health experts view attempts at pinning such culpability as a possible strategy to shift the blame for the growing outbreak to the public.
“Yes, there is need for people to adopt social-distancing and follow lockdown measures in place, but there is no way the Government can claim it has done everything right,” said Sulakshana Nandi, a public health specialist with the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a people’s health network.
Nandi and other health experts point to what they describe as the abrupt and unplanned lockdown imposed across India after a notice of only 4 hours. Nandi said: “Was this negligence? Could those who recommended the lockdown not even think of the reality in India?”
In the days after the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in various states ~ left without a source of income ~ tried to return to their native places on foot or by any vehicles they could find.(Courtesy: TT)