Will Lockdown End On April 14? Minister Prakash Javadekar Said After Cabinet Meet
Amid questions on whether the national lockdown to fight coronavirus will be extended beyond April 15, the government today said a decision would be taken "in the national interest" and would be declared "at the right time". A top official in Uttar Pradesh, however, went on record to say people may have to wait longer as the number of COVID-19 cases is rising.
"When we open the lockdown it will be after we have ensured that the state is corona free. If even one corona positive person is left, it will be very difficult to open the lockdown and that is why it may take time," said Awanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh.
After a meeting of the Union Cabinet, the central government, however, remained non-committal on ending the lockdown in eight more days.
"We are monitoring the world situation every minute. A decision will be taken in the national interest. A decision in this regard will be declared at the right time," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said after a meeting of the Union Cabinet via video link.
"There is an empowered group of officials that is assessing the situation," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on March 24 announced a total 21-day lockdown, which is till April 14.
Last week, during a video-conference with chief ministers, PM Modi had asked for a plan for staggered movement of people after the lockdown ends.
"It is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends," PM Modi said, urging states to send their suggestions.
Many believe the government may be compelled to continue the lockdown, but in a tweaked version, given the economic costs and the scramble for essential goods.
Unconfirmed reports suggest agricultural activities may be exempted, flights may be partially opened and a complete lockdown may be limited to virus hotspots.
The centre may also leave it to states to assess the situation and take a decision.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath yesterday fueled speculation with his comments to state MPs. "The lockdown will be lifted on April 15. We have to ensure that the crowding doesn't take place. After the lockdown is lifted and if crowding takes place, all our efforts will go in vain," he was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
India has over 4,000 coronavirus cases now, including 109 deaths.