India likely to extend lockdown

Gautam Lahiri

8th April, 2020 08:15:57 printer

India likely to extend lockdown


New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus is likely to be extended.

Restrictions will not be lifted in one go after April 14 as COVID-19 infections continue to spread across the country, he said.

In a video meeting with leaders of all parties, Modi said he would consult with chief ministers on April 11 but lifting the lockdown at the moment was "not possible". He said the decision will be finalized after meeting with the chief ministers.

"The priority of the government is to save each and every life. The situation in the country is akin to a 'social emergency', it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant," said the PM.

Life will not be the same again after COVID-19, the Prime Minister said, adding that there are "pre-corona and post-corona" situations.

"Massive behavioural, social and personal changes will have to take place," he told political leaders in the video conference.

The sweeping lockdown of 1.3 billion people to prevent an epidemic of COVID-19 will expire on April 14.

Many states and experts have requested an extension, given the rapid spread of virus cases and warnings that the infection could peak in the coming weeks.

The crisis for thousands of migrant workers, rising unemployment and the strain on businesses has increased the pressure on the government to reopen parts of Asia's third-largest economy. Some within the government is in favour of sealing corona hotspots and easing restrictions in other parts.

A group of ministers suggested that schools, colleges and religious centres should be closed for more weeks.

It is unlikely that rail travel, buses, metros and religious gatherings will be allowed anywhere in the country.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country has climbed to 5,194 while 149 people died.

Ghulam Nabi Azad from Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay from Trinamool Congress and Sanjay Raut from Shiv Sena, among others, joined the video-conference.