India’s Modi extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown until May 3:

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the country’s nationwide lockdown until May 3 in a bid to contain the continued spread of the coronavirus, but said that some states which have avoided outbreaks may be allowed to resume “important activities.”

Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday, Modi said it was vital that the virus is prevented from impacting parts of the country that remain unaffected.

My request to all my countrymen is that coronavirus will not be allowed to spread across new areas at any cost,” said Modi, who wore a scarf covering his mouth and nose which he removed before speaking. “We have to be very careful about hotspots. We will have to keep a close watch on the places that are expected to become hotspots.”

 The “complete” 21-day lockdown for India’s 1.3 billion people came into force at the end of the day on March 24 and was set to expire on Tuesday, April 14.

Since the lockdown was enforced, only essential services have been operational. Those include water, electricity, health services, fire services, grocery stores and municipal services.
All regular shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship have been closed and interstate buses and metros have been suspended. Construction activity was also halted during this period.

“Until May 3, all of us will have to remain in lockdown. During this time, we have to follow the same discipline as we have been doing,” Modi said.

Prior to Modi’s address, several Indian states had ordered extended lockdowns until April 30, in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. Those included Maharashtra, the center of the worst outbreak in the country.

While the lockdown measures will continue, Modi said that some states and districts that have shown to have avoided an outbreak “could be allowed to resume important activities but with conditions.”

“Until April 20, all districts, neighborhoods and states will be closely monitored to see how strictly they are implementing the rules.” Modi said.

The Prime Minister did not offer any specifics but said “detailed guidelines” will be issued by the government on Wednesday.

India is the world’s second most populous country and the fifth biggest economy, but there are fears that the country’s health systems would not be able to cope with a major outbreak. The country has reported 10,363 coronavirus cases, including at least 339 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

In his speech, Modi thanked citizens for adhering to the lockdown restrictions over the past three weeks.

“You have faced difficulties to save yourself and the nation,” Modi said. “I understand the great difficulties you are facing regarding food, the lack of movement. Some had to stay away from their families. You are fulfilling duties as disciplined soldiers for the sake of the nation.”

He said that India had made efforts to ensure major outbreaks — such as those seen in Europe or the United States — did not spread in the country.

“Today, the pandemic is global. Compared to other countries, India has made efforts to prevent infection here,” Modi said.
“India didn’t wait for the problem to escalate. Instead, as soon as the problem appeared, we tried to stop it by making swift decisions. I can’t imagine what the situation would have been had such quick decisions not been taken.”