Lockdown extension likely in hotspots

Lockdown extension likely in hotspots
Narendra Modi (foreground) interacts with cief ministers of various States/UTs via video conferencing, Monday.
NEW DELHI/DIMAPUR, APR 27 (AGENCIES/NPN) | Publish Date: 4/27/2020 11:55:17 AM IST


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hinted at another extension of lockdown in COVID-19 hotspots after May 3 during his virtual meet with chief ministers. The PM also lauded the efforts made by states across India to contain the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic while asking them to prepare a lockdown exit policy.

State governments should be able to convert their red zones (districts with high number of COVID-19 infections) first into orange zones (districts with fewer cases) and, eventually, into green zones (districts with no infections), Modi said on Monday while interacting with chief ministers over a video conference.

As India entered the last week of the 40-day nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to economy as well as continue the fight against coronavirus, in a clear indication that strict restrictions could be limited to COVID-19 hotspots while curbs can be eased gradually in areas not affected by the virus.

Modi stressed on the need for the states to strictly enforce lockdown guidelines in the coronavirus hotspots zones, and strongly pitched for the mantra of ‘do gaz doori’ (a distance of two yards) to protect people from the infection, according to a government statement. 

During the meeting, a majority of the chief ministers wanted the lockdown to continue after May 3 and told Modi that some economic activity should be started slowly, Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy told reporters.

Asserting 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”, Modi, however, forewarned that “the danger of the virus is far from over and constant vigilance is of paramount importance”.

Several states like-- Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Odisha and Meghalaya etc. have called for extension of lockdown restrictions in hotspot areas beyond May 3. Modi further asked the states to focus on “rapid response” in dealing with the pandemic, adding wearing masks and face covers would become part of people’s lives for times to come. 

“We have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against COVID -19,” Modi said, adding it is important for “states to enforce guidelines strictly in the hotspots i.e the red zone areas and the efforts of the states should be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones.” 

Sources in the government said the lockdown may be lifted in a gradual manner and restrictions are likely to continue in the coronavirus hotspots. 

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, accompanied by deputy chief minister Y Patton, Health minister S Pangyu Phom, Planning & Coordination minister Neiba Kronu, Food & Civil Supplies adviser Phukayi, chief secretary Temjen Toy and other senior officials, participated in the video conference with Modi. Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio in his tweet said discussed with the Prime Minister and the chief ministers future course of action to tackle COVID-19.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the other hand accused Centre of making contradictory statements on enforcement of the lockdown, and wanted greater clarity on the recent Home ministry order on reopening shops.

She also informed that restrictions in West Bengal will continue till May 21. Mamata, however, clarified that she was not announcing any extension on lockdown, as that decision will be taken by the central government.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma also informed that the lockdown in the state will continue beyond May 3. He, however, said some relaxations will be introduced in green zones and non-COVID-19 affected districts after the nationwide shutdown has been lifted.

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