New Delhi/April,8 : The government will take a final call on extending the lockdown for coronavirus after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second meeting with Chief Ministers via video conference on Saturday. The Prime Minister will reportedly discuss with chief ministers about a way forward after April 14, following up on the last meeting, in which he had asked for their suggestions on lifting the lockdown in a staggered manner.
Coronavirus cases have gone up to 5,194 in India after the biggest 24-hour jump in new cases (773) and deaths (35).
The government is considering requests of several states to continue the lockdown, sources say.
Sources say the government is in favour of removing the restrictions in a graded manner to ensure that the economy and basic sectors restart. While more and more states have asked for an extension of the lockdown, given the spurt in COVID-19 cases, there is massive concern over job losses and the need to restart the economy. The government is exploring the reopening of sectors in a phased manner. Officials have pointed out that before the formal announcement of lockdown by PM Modi on March 24, some states had already imposed restrictions and put out warnings on social distancing.
Schools and colleges are unlikely to open next week. A Group of Ministers that met Tuesday recommended that all educational institutions stay closed for another four weeks. It also suggested continuing the ban on religious gathering and meetings.
The ministers reportedly recommended that states can allow harvesting of crops across the country. Trains, buses and metros may stay shut. Air travel is likely to resume in phases.
The meeting — attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh — also suggested that shopping malls stay shut for at least four more weeks from April 14, when the current lockdown ends.
Most officials say the priority is to ensure the highly contagious virus is contained amid rising worries about asymptomatic cases from some states like Kerala and Maharashtra.
States that have the most coronavirus cases are Maharashtra (1018), Tamil nadu (690), Delhi (576), Telangana (364) and Kerala (336).