NEW DELHI: Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul on Friday apologised for “misconception” regarding an official graph he had presented earlier that suggested India would have no new COVID-19 case by 16 May. During the health ministry’s daily briefing on April 24, Paul had presented the graph seeking to highlight the benefits of the nationwide lockdown. While he apologised for the ‘misconception’, he said “we showed you factual information and no claim was made ( regarding the number of cases falling to zero)”. Paul on Friday also said the lockdown, which is about to complete two months, cannot go on indefinitely and it has achieved its purpose by giving the nation enough time to ramp up the health infrastructure and raise awareness about the pandemic. Responding to a question on whether relaxations allowed in the fourth phase of the lockdown, which includes a partial resumption of domestic flight services, would hurtle India back to square one in its fight against COVID-19, chairman of Empowered Group One and Niti Aayog member V K Paul said the lockdown was a special effort, meant for a purpose, and it cannot continue for an indefinite time. The government has formed 11 empowered groups to suggest measures to ramp up healthcare, put the economy back on track and reduce misery of people once the lockdown is lifted. Paul said a large number of deaths were averted due to lockdown, which put a brake on the spread of the virus. "It cannot continue for unlimited time and life has to return to normal as livelihoods have been affected," he said, stressing it's important to exhibit a behaviour that creates difficulties for the virus. Also 2,403 dedicated COVID-19 health centres with oxygen facilities having a capacity 1,38,652 isolation beds have been readied, he said. "The time the nation got for preparedness due to lockdown has been utilized very well, we can now say with confidence that we will be able to face the challenge and surmount it," he said.
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