Modi extends nationwide anti-COVID lockdown till May 3; 'conditional relaxation' post Apr 20
New Delhi/IBNS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown till May 3 with a hint of relaxation in "non-hotspot" zones a week from now as the number of coronavirus cases crossed 10,000 claiming 339 lives so far officially.
Days after several states extended the lockdown, Modi during his morning address to nation on Tuesday said, "Following the advice of all states, we are extending the lockdown till May 3," and added, "strict enforcement of lockdown will be followed in the next one week."
Amid the deep economic crisis due to the lockdown, the Prime Minister has hinted at a phase-wise lifting of the lockdown which began initially on Mar 25.
"There should be no letup in the implementation of lockdown. All regions in the states will be monitored very closely on full compliance of the lockdown. Only those regions that will show no evidence of cases or its spread will be allowed restricted movements after Apr 20," said Modi.
Likewise all passenger trains, metros as well as flights will remain shut till May 3.
States like Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra had already extended the lockdown, which exempts essential shops, at least till Apr 30.
Citing the tally of other developed western nations where the number of affected people is much higher than India, the Prime Minister said the situation was better in the South Asian country because of the government's "prompt, holistic and integrated approach".
Before concluding his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave seven advices to the nation. He urged all to look after the seniors in family who are more prone to deaths from the virus.
He urged all to maintain social distancing and lockdown norms, wear masks and to increase their immunity follow the Ayush ministry recommendations.
Urging all to download the Arogya Setu mobile app, he appealed to the people to look after the poor and feed them.
With job loss already a reality of lockdown effect, he urged entrepreneurs to take care of their people and not fire anyone.
Amid reports of attacks on health workers, he urged all to respect the corona fighters of India like doctors, nurses, cleaning workers, et. al.
As per the government update, 10,363 people (including 1,036 cured and 339 deaths) have been affected by the contagion in India so far. According to worldometers.info, the number of infected is 10,541 with 358 deaths so far in India.
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Though India's tally is in no match with the steep rise in cases across the world, the experts have warned the country of getting its poor health infrastructure overwhelmed if the cases spike at a rapid rate.
Among all the states, Maharashtra has recorded the maximum number of cases (2,334) followed by the national capital Delhi (1,510) and Tamil Nadu (1,173).
Congress criticises Modi for not releasing money to states
Drawing criticism from the opposition political parties, Modi during his address on Tuesday once again stayed away from formulating any fresh strategy to reduce the plight of migrant workers and daily wagers who have suffered the most due to the massive, unprecedented lockdown which was earlier due to end on Apr 14 midnight.
However, the Prime Minister, who had no other option but to ask 1.3 billion people to stay indoors to stem the spread of the pandemic virus, acknowledged the suffering of the poor during his address.
The Centre had earlier announced a mega stimulus package of Rs. 1,70,000 crore to uplift the poor in this trying time but videos of desperate migrant workers trying to reach home by walking hundreds of kilometers across the state borders mirrored the humanitarian crisis caused by the lockdown.
Though several people, including migrant workers who set on foot for home, had reportedly died owing to the lockdown, Modi on Tuesday once again reassured that the country has "sufficient stock of food items".
Congress, the country's oldest and main opposition political party, has supported the decision to extend the lockdown but also hit out at the government for not giving any further relief measures to the poor.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, a former Union Finance Minister and a critic of the Modi government, tweeted after the Prime Minister's address to say, "We reciprocate the PM’s New Year greetings. We understand the compulsion for extending the lockdown. We support the decision."
We reciprocate the PM’s New Year greetings. We understand the compulsion for extending the lockdown. We support the decision— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 14, 2020
But he also added in the next few tweets, "CMs’ demand for money elicited no response. Not a rupee has been added to the miserly package of March 25, 2020. From Raghuram Rajan to Jean Dreze, from Prabhat Patnaik to Abhijit Banerji, their advice has fallen on deaf years."
"The poor have been left to fend for themselves for 21+19 days, including practically soliciting food. There is money, there is food, but the government will not release either money or food. Cry, my beloved country."
The poor have been left to fend for themselves for 21+19 days, including practically soliciting food. There is money, there is food, but the government will not release either money or food.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 14, 2020
Cry, my beloved country.
(Image Credits: Radha Mohan Singh Twitter, UNI, PIB, BJP Twitter, Avishek Mitra/IBNS)