New Delhi, Apr 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the current lockdown will be extended till May 3, saying it is very necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a televised address to the nation, Modi said implementation of the lockdown will be strictly ensured in coming days to ensure that the virus does not spread to new areas,
The prime minister said detailed guidelines on implementation of the new lockdown will be announced on Wednesday.
Some relaxations may be allowed after April 20 in places where there is no hotspot, he said.
“Till April 20, each district, each state will be monitored closely to see whether the lockdown is being followed. Then we can decide on relaxing the restrictions,” said the Prime Minister, who used a traditional red and white “gamocha” or cloth towel as a mask before beginning his address.
Some essential activities could be allowed after April 20 in parts of the country that showed some improvement in fighting the infection, he added.
“We absolutely must ensure that this virus does not spread to any further parts of the country. We should be worried every time we hear that someone in some part of the country has died of the virus. We must ensure that new hotspots do not spring up.”
He said India has managed to contain the spread of infection well due to its holistic approach in dealing with the crisis and sacrifices made by people of the country in the fight produced positive results.
Modi said India received huge benefits from the 21-day lockdown in checking the pandemic and added that the country has dealt with the situation better with limited resources.
The lockdown that came into effect on March 25 was to expire on midnight of April 14.
The drastic measure shone the spotlight on the miseries of lakhs of migrant workers whose journeys on foot from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away grabbed headlines for many days last month.
The catastrophic effect of the lockdown on the overall economy and livelihoods of lakhs of migrant workers triggered severe concerns following which a number of chief ministers in their video conference with Modi on Saturday sought some kind of relaxation for a number of sectors.
Late last month, the government announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package aimed at providing relief to those hit hard by the lockdown as well as an insurance cover for healthcare professionals handling virus infected people.
There have been 339 coronavirus deaths in India, according to the latest data from the Union Health Ministry.