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Lockdown may have to continue, PM Modi tells party leaders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated to party leaders that the lockdown may have to continue post April 14 and it looks difficult to lift the same given the COVID situation in the country.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 09, 2020, 09.07 AM IST
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PM Narendra Modi has indicated to party leaders that the lockdown may have to continue post April 14 and it looks difficult to lift the same given the COVID situation in the country. In a detailed meeting with leaders of political parties, Modi said the government is thinking about what path to take as it has got lot of suggestions towards extension of the full lockdown as well as lifting it in a phased manner.

Modi has called another meeting with all Chief Ministers on Saturday, April 11 where a decision could be taken in consultation with the states. The PM is said to have mentioned how he had earlier told Chief Ministers to give their suggestions on a 'staggered exit plan' from the lockdown. Hence the option of lifting the entire lockdown in one go was never on the table but the current situation has made the government think towards extending the lockdown entirely for some more time. It is speculated that the lockdown may continue till the end of April.

“The government may extend lockdown beyond April 14 to combat the coronavirus spread,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has said after the meeting with PM. Top Government sources on Tuesday had said a lot of state governments, as well as experts, are requesting the central government to extend the lockdown and the central government is thinking in this direction. “It’s an evolving situation. The government wishes to just wait and hold on (to the lockdown). Most big states like UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Rajasthan want this as cases have been on the rise over the last week. Nearly 300 districts have confirmed at least one positive case until now. The PM, in consultation with the CMs, will take a final decision in the next few days,” a senior government official told ET on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

Multiple factors seem to have come into play with various states worried about a sudden spike in the number of cases if the lockdown is lifted and social distancing norms are not properly followed. Also, major urban economic centres crucial for a revival, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, are the ones worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. These hotspots would still remain under a lockdown even if partial relief is given to other areas, an official had added.

Besides this, the Tablighi Jamaat episode has come as major setback to the Centre’s plans of sticking to the 21-day lockdown as nearly one-third of cases in the country are currently linked to that gathering. ET has gathered that many states are still to complete contact tracing of those associated with the Tablighi Jamaat cluster, while those who attended the gathering also need to complete the two-week quarantine. The Centre, officials said, also feels that the supply chain of essential goods has largely normalised now, so an extended lockdown could be feasible.

Chief ministers like Ashok Gehlot and Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said saving lives was most important and that should be the main criterion on which a decision to lift the lockdown should be taken. Indore and Bhopal, the major urban centers in Madhya Pradesh, are reeling under the Covid-19 outbreak, with the state reporting 286 cases. In Rajasthan too, the main urban centers of Jaipur and Jodhpur are reporting maximum cases. The Uttar Pradesh government has also cited the increasing number of Tablighi Jamaat cases, which at last count stood at 168 out of the 308 positive cases in the state, as a reason for extending the lockdown beyond April 14.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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