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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Lockdown to be extended in Covid-19 hotspots post May 3

PM Modi, sources said, assured Chief Ministers that the country's economy is in a good shape and there is no reason to worry. Sources told The Indian Express that a decision on the modalities for exiting from the lockdown will be announced after May 3.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: April 27, 2020 7:28:44 pm
PM Modi, sources said, assured Chief Minister that the country’s economy is in a good shape and there is no reason to worry.

The states with a growing number of COVID-19 cases are likely to see a stricter lockdown post May 3 than those with Green Zones, sources told The Indian Express after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chief Ministers on Monday.

The lockdown, sources said, is expected to continue in many places post May 3, with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asking it to be extended till June 3. At least two states are learnt to have backed him.

But the states that have a number of COVID-free districts wanted some restrictions to be eased so that more economic activities could be revived. However, all he states wanted to continue the restrictions on inter-state transportation as well as air and railway transport, indicating that the ban on such travel would continue post May 3.

The mode of restrictions and modalities of exit from the lockdown in Green Zones would be announced before the second phase of the lockdown ends.

In today’s video conference meeting with the Chief Ministers, Prime Minister Modi assured that the state of economy is still in a good shape and there is no need to panic about it, sources said. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was also present in the meeting — her first since such video conferences began on March 20. However, there has been no announcement or assurance on the demands made by various states for more funds and an economic package.

According to an official note, Prime Minister Modi underlined that the lockdown has yielded positive results as the country has managed to save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months. Pointing out that India’s population is comparable to that of the combined population of several countries, Modi said that the country could protect its people because of the timely measures. “However, he forewarned that the danger of the virus is far from over and constant vigilance is of paramount importance,” sources said.

He asked the states to enforce guidelines strictly in the hotspots or red zone areas. The Prime Minister also asked Chief Ministers to factor in the changes in the weather — advent of summer and monsoon — in their strategies in the battle against the virus.

“We have to be brave and bring in reforms that touch the lives of common citizens,” he told the Chief Ministers.

With some states like Kerala demanding bringing back Indians from overseas, Modi said it has to be done keeping in mind the fact that they don’t get inconvenienced and their families are not under any risk. Kerala had asked the Centre to send chartered flights to bring back those who are stranded in the foreign countries.

The PM’s meeting came on a day after the country registered the highest daily increase of 1,945 cases, taking the total number of positive cases to 26,917. The number of deaths touched 826. However, the central government has projected the country to record 65,000 COVID 19 cases by May 15.

In Monday’s meeting, nine chief ministers — of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Gujarat, and Haryana — got their turn to speak. Other chief ministers were given the option to send their chief secretaries or ministers to the meeting.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sagma said that he has “mooted to continue with the lockdown post May 3 with relaxation on activities in Green Zones or non-Covid affected districts”in his state.

While many states including Bihar wanted more assistance in the health sector, including PPEs and test kits, Kerala wanted inter-district movements based on the analysis of the virus spread and more relaxation for the economic activities.

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