NEW DELHI :
Following requests from several state governments and experts, the central government is now planning whether the 21-day nationwide lockdown that is scheduled to end on 14 April, Hindustan Times reported quoting government sources.
Many state governments, as well as experts, are requesting the central government to extend the lockdown, the news report said.
The report comes in the wake of multiple chief ministers asking Modi to extend the lockdown. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Monday made a strong case for the extension of the ongoing lockdown. Rao had advocated for the extension of the current shutdown saying, "The Centre and all other State Governments have lost revenue during the lockdown period. The only positive outcome of this is that we are able to protect our people."
KCR also cited reports of the Boston Consulting Group survey, which asked for ruthless measures like extension of the lockdown till at least June.
"I am appealing to the Prime Minister and Government of India to extend lockdown without hesitation. Lockdown is the only weapon we have to control the spread of this disease and avoid a situation which countries like the US, Spain and Italy are facing," he said at a news conference.
Modi was believed to have told chief ministers in his last CM conference, on 2 April, that it is a 'long drawn battle', something he reiterated on Monday while he was addressing party cadres on the occasion of the BJP's Foundation Day.
Soon after the CM conference by Prime Minister, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, from his Twitter account, declared: "The Prime Minister said that the State Government should not lift the lockdown immediately from April 15 but it should happen in phases. Precautions should be taken that there is no crowding."
However, the government hasn't made any assertion so far whether it is going to extend the current lockdown or not. But government sources have indeed confirmed that the Modi government is considering the requests to extend the shutdown, IANS reported.
The news agency said its government sources have indicated that the situation was complicated ever since the Tablighi Jamaat congregation led to steep rise in coronavirus infections as well as fatality tally.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government will extend lockdown if need arises, while his counterpart in Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot said the state cannot withdraw the lockdown immediately, and it has to be done in a phased manner.
In a statement to mark two weeks of lockdown, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said the next one week of the lockdown is "critical" for evolving an exit strategy as the data regarding the spread of coronavirus will have a bearing on the decision to be taken by the government.
He also appealed to the public to abide with whatever decision is ultimately taken by the government and cooperate with the same spirit that has been evident so far, "even if it meant to continue with some degree of hardship beyond April 14".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on March 24 announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure to control the spread of the coronavirus.
India's tally of COVID-19 positive cases rose to 4,421, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday. Out of the 4,421 cases, 3,981 are active cases while 325 have been cured or discharged and one has migrated. The total toll stands at 114.
Modi has been asking countrymen to be ready for a long battle against the coronavirus pandemic, and exhorted people to not feel tired or defeated while expressing confidence the country will emerge victorious in its fight.
Since there is no vaccine to fight COVID-19, the government has stressed that social distancing is the only way to check the spread of the virus. Lockdown is considered the best way to keep people indoors.
Inter-state travel by public transport, including trains and buses, is banned, and so is domestic and international air travel.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.