Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced an extension of the national lockdown by another 19 days, i.e., until 3 April, in a bid to consolidate the gains of the initial 3-week lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
"....it has been decided that the lockdown in India will have to be extended until the 3rd of May. That means until the 3rd of May, each and every one of us, will have to remain in the lockdown", Prime Minister Modi said in a televised national address. It was the fourth by Modi since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
Modi said the first week of the second lockdown phase would be enforced more rigorously.
"We will have to keep a close and strict watch on the places which run the risk of becoming hot spots. The creation of new hot spots will further challenge our hard work and penance. Hence, let us extend the strictness and austerity in the fight against corona for the upcoming one week", Modi said.
The PM indicated that after 20 April, the government would review the situation to relax the provisions of the lockdown, depending on its adherence. He said regions that succeed in the "litmus test" and were not in the hot spot category would be allowed to select necessary activities.
The extension of the lockdown did not come as a surprise as several state chiefs during a virtual interaction with Modi on Saturday (11 April) had suggested a graded approach to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"I have been in continuous touch with the states on how the fight against corona should progress in India. Everyone has suggested that the lockdown should be continued. Many states have in fact already decided and declared to continue the lockdown", Modi stated.
After the announcement, Indian Railways extended the suspension of its passenger train services until 3 May. Train services were earlier suspended until Tuesday, as per the lockdown provisions.
Modi stressed that India has fared well in dealing with the pandemic as compared to other developed nations, and highlighted the state of preparedness in the country to fight COVID-19. He said, India has arranged more than 100,000 beds and 600 dedicated hospitals to deal with the pandemic.
"There is ample reserves of medicines, foodstuffs, and other essential goods", he added.
India currently has over 10,000 COVID-19 cases in the country, while nearly 400 people have lost their lives to the virus.