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Prime Minister extends lockdown till May 3

Prime Minister extends lockdown till May 3

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday announced 19 additional days of lockdown while lauding efforts taken to restrict the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. He said there would be strict enforcement of the lockdown until April 20, after which there could be relaxation in specific areas after an assessment of the situation.

"Till April 20, we will monitor how well the districts are doing. In places where the situation is improving, few relaxations will be made," said Modi in his fourth address to the nation in one month.

In a 25-minute televised address on the last day of the ongoing three-week lockdown, he said extensive guidelines on the second phase of the lockdown will be issued on Wednesday, asserting that his biggest priority is to save lives and minimise the hardships being faced by daily wagers and farmers.

Admitting that the lockdown has come at a huge economic cost, Modi, however, asserted that India has chosen the correct path, and managed to avert to a large extent the damage caused by the pandemic in many countries.

He also noted that most of the state governments, experts and other stakeholders recommended the extension of the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Several states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka have already extended the lockdown till April 30, and Union government sources pointed out that it has been stretched till May 3 as May 1 is a public holiday and May 2 and 3 is a weekend.

Amid demands from certain quarters that economic activities be allowed to start, Modi said the lockdown will be strictly implemented for a week, and every area will be evaluated before a decision on allowing some "select necessary activities" will be taken.

"Areas that will succeed in this litmus test, which will not be in the hot-spot category, and will have less likelihood to turn into a hot-spot may be allowed to open up select necessary activities from 20 April. However, keep in mind, this permission will be conditional, and the rules for going out will be very strict. Permission will be withdrawn immediately if lockdown rules are broken, and spread of Coronavirus risked," he asserted.

Noting that India is in a much better position in terms of the loss of lives than several developed nations, Modi said: "Our experience makes it clear that the path we have chosen is the right way."

The Prime Minister, who held a meeting with Chief Ministers last Saturday over the continuance of the lockdown, asserted that it was India's "holistic and integrated approach" that helped the country fare better than many other nations.

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