Following requests from several state governments and experts,  the Centre is considering extending the nationwide lockdown after its  ends on April 14 in order to stem the transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), government sources said.

“A lot of state governments as well as experts are requesting the  Central Government to extend the lockdown. The Central Government is  thinking in this direction,” sources said.

At least seven states, which together have reported 1,367 coronavirus cases—almost one-third of the total cases in India—had indicated on Monday that they would continue to have some restrictions in place even after the 21-day lockdown ends on April 14. As per the latest update from the Health Ministry, the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country has climbed to 4,421, including 117 deaths.

A deserted road in Maharashtra amid the 21-day lockdown
Reflecting on the development, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav  Agarwal said the Cabinet Secretary has already issued a clarification  denying that the lockdown would be extended. “It is true that states are  asking for extension, as and when decision is taken after discussions, I  will let you know,” he said.

While Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said he was in  favour of extending the lockdown in his state, Maharashtra, Rajasthan,  UP, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand indicated that they would not  fully lift the restrictions after next Tuesday.

Assam, which has reported 26 cases, is planning a registration system  to regulate those who wish to enter the state after the lockdown.  Maharashtra, which has recorded the maximum number of cases (748) so  far, is likely to extend the lockdown in the Mumbai and Pune regions, as  well in other hotspots. UP officials said that following the rise in  the number of cases in the state linked to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi (159 out of 305), “there is now uncertainty over lifting of the lockdown”.
Security personnel stand outside Jama Masjid in New Delhi during the coronavirus lockdown. (Express photo by Abinav Saha)

Rajasthan (274) is working on a “staggered” exit strategy with curbs  in “high risk zones”, while Chhattisgarh (10) Chief Minister Bhupesh  Baghel wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against lifting interstate travel over worries the outbreak will  spread. Only Madhya Pradesh (165) struck a different note, as Chief  Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that wheat procurement will begin from April 15.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a video conference, told Chief Ministers of all states to “formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown  ends” on April 14. He had also underlined that “in the next few weeks,  testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of  focus” in the country’s war against the coronavirus threat.

Source: IndianExpress


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