India extends its nationwide coronavirus lockdown till May 3

Trying to keep it safe.
Trying to keep it safe.
Image: REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi today (April 14) announced the extension of the coronavirus lockdown till May 3.

In his fourth address to the nation since March 19, Modi asked authorities to intensify surveillance efforts from April 20, especially in the hotspots. An area is identified as coronavirus hotspot if there are six or more active cases reported from there.

Acknowledging the troubles many citizens are facing, he said guidelines with details for the extended lockdown will be out tomorrow.

Listing out India’s efforts in the fight against coronavirus, Modi said the country is doing better with its “timely decision” and “holistic approach” in comparison to other nations.

“Social distancing has paid off well in preventing the virus, while it may seem expensive to carry out, it is necessary to save the lives of Indians,” he said.

In his 20-minute televised address, Modi also talked about an increase in focus on the health infrastructure.

“Labs have come up, beds have increased, and more than 600 hospitals are working for coronavirus treatment. These facilities are being added every day,” he said.

The decision to extend the lockdown comes on a day when India completed the 21-day lockdown, announced by Modi on March 24 due to the pandemic. As of now, India has over 10,000 coronavirus cases and has recorded more than 300 deaths across various states.

On April 11, Modi held a video conference with chief ministers of all states, and many of them urged the centre to extend the shutdown beyond April 14.

“Next 3-4 weeks are critical in determining the impact of steps taken till now to curb the spread of the virus,” Modi said in the meet.

The lockdown, announced on March 24, has raised concerns about India’s struggling economy.

Addressing the issue, Modi suggested specific measures for agriculture and allied sector including modification of laws related to agricultural produce market committee (APMC), a marketing board for farmers, to facilitate the sale of farm produce.

Meanwhile, elaborating on the relevance of the lockdown, the health ministry, in one of its media briefings, said that without the lockdown India would have witnessed over 800,000 cases by April 15 at a 41% growth rate.

“Post lockdown, the rate is down to 29% because of which India has 7447 cases today when it would have been around 45,000 without any measure,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary at the health ministry said while addressing the media on April 11.