After Odisha and Punjab, Maharashtra on Saturday became the third state to extend the lockdown till April 30 to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The worst affected state in the country, Maharashtra today reported 92 more cases, taking the state’s tally of infected patients to 1,666.
In a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterparts from other states, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that Maharashtra will continue the lockdown after April 14, adding that while curbs can be relaxed in some places, they will be stricter in others.
He also said that the decision on lifting the curbs completely after April 30 will be taken depending upon the prevailing situation.
Thackeray indicated that the lockdown may continue in Maharashtra even after April 30 if people don’t cooperate and the situation doesn’t improve. “I am saying lockdown will continue ‘at least’ till April 30. I am using the word ‘at least’ deliberately and giving emphasis on it. It means that if the people follow the discipline and avoid crowding at market places, then we may be able to prevent the spreading of virus,” he said.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi held a video conference with chief ministers to discuss exit strategies after the nationwide lockdown ends on April 14. Odisha and Punjab have already announced that they would extend the restrictions till the month-end.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also suggested an extension of the lockdown till April 30.
A broad consensus on the extension of the lockdown emerged after the meeting. It is learnt that the present lockdown will be continued for at least two more weeks, and even then not entirely lifted, but a staggered exit strategy will be put in place, depending on circumstances prevalent at the time.
Government sources said that the Prime Minister emphasized in the meeting that “Jaan hai toh Jahaan hai”(When there is life, there will be livelihood.” The meeting comes two days before the end of a 21-day lockdown period that PM Modi had first announced on March 24.
Last week, the Prime Minister had said that it was unlikely that the lockdown would be lifted in “one go” as the priority of his government was to “save each and every life”.
The number of coronavirus cases climbed to 7529 on Saturday while the death toll stood at 242, according to the latest update by the Union Health Ministry.