New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the current lockdown will be extended till May 3, saying it is very necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a televised address to the nation, Modi said implementation of the lockdown will be strictly ensured in coming days to ensure that the virus does not spread to new areas,
The prime minister said detailed guidelines on implementation of the new lockdown will be announced on Wednesday.
Some relaxations may be allowed after April 20 in places where there is no hotspot, he said.
He said India has managed to contain the spread of infection well due to its holistic approach in dealing with the crisis and sacrifices made by people of the country in the fight produced positive results.
Modi said India received huge benefits from the 21-day lockdown in checking the pandemic and added that the country has dealt with the situation better with limited resources.
The lockdown that came into effect on March 25 was to expire on midnight of April 14.
The drastic measure shone the spotlight on the miseries of lakhs of migrant workers whose journeys on foot from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away grabbed headlines for many days last month.
The catastrophic effect of the lockdown on the overall economy and livelihoods of lakhs of migrant workers triggered severe concerns following which a number of chief ministers in their video conference with Modi on Saturday sought some kind of relaxation for a number of sectors.
Late last month, the government announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package aimed at providing relief to those hit hard by the lockdown as well as an insurance cover for healthcare professionals handling virus infected people.
Suspension of flight, train service too extended
Just after the national lockdown was extended for another two weeks, all domestic and international airlines were also suspended till May 3.This comes after the Railways also extended the suspension of passenger services till May 3 considering the extension of the national lockdown.
Reacting to the prime minister’s address, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, said that the speech was “hollow on specifics”. There is no financial package, neither for poor nor middle class,” he said.
PM’s address without specific guidelines is like Hamlet without Prince of Denmark: he said.
“We want concrete palliatives for deprived classes, and even for middle class, and MSMEs,” Singhvi said.
Former Finance Minister Chidambaram, said, “There is money, there is food, but govt will not release them. Cry, my beloved country.”
Before the speech, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi addressed the nation, In her video message, she urged citizens to stay indoors, be safe and observe the lockdown stipulations. She also extended her party’s support in fighting the coronavirus. “Every Congress worker will support you,” she said.
BJP president JP Nadda thanked Gandhi for same.
This is the fourth address to the nation in two months. Modi had addressed the nation twice on March 19 and March 24. In the first speech, he announced a ‘janta curfew’ on March 22, a Sunday, in a bid to fight the coronavirus. On March 24, he had announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
On April 3, Modi urged the public to display the country’s “collective resolve” to defeat the virus. He appealed to the citizens to switch off the lights at their homes and light up lamps, candles for nine minutes at 9 AM on April 5.