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Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has resisted imposing a national lockdown after a nationwide shutdown a year ago caused widespread human suffering and a painful economic hit.

“I think the most important thing in the immediate is to get oxygen, get supplies, get medication, get PPE, those kinds of things,” the Indian Express daily quoted Fauci as saying in an interview. “But also, one of the immediate things to do is to essentially call a shutdown of the country,” he said.

“And if you shut down, you don’t have to shut down for six months. You can shut down temporarily to put an end to the cycle of transmission,” he added. No one likes to lock down the country… But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.”

Many states have imposed heavy restrictions on activity, particularly in the western state of Maharashtra and the capital New Delhi where hospitals are at breaking point. The capital extended its shutdown for another week today.

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