India’s prime minister on Tuesday announced the extension of the country’s lockdown for 1.3 billion people until May 3, but said there may be some easing in restrictions in people’s movement after one week to help poor daily wage earners and those working in agriculture sector, the AP reports. In an address to the nation on radio and television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown will be eased only in areas which do not show any deterioration in the spread of coronavirus. The first phase of India’s lockdown ends Tuesday after three weeks, with more than 9,000 positive cases and 339 deaths so far with people restricted to their homes for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.
Modi said India has paid a big economic price by imposing the lockdown, but it was much better placed than many other countries as it had acted quickly imposing travel and quarantine restrictions even before the first death was reported in the country. He said the lockdown and social distancing among people have worked. India has sealed hundreds of residential districts as containment zones across the country, ramping up a low rate of testing. Modi said all-out efforts are being made to ensure that no new hot spots emerge, adding that there was a consensus amongst India’s states on extension of the lockdown by another two weeks. He said there was no shortage of medicines and grains and promised an efficient supply chain to the people. The Health Ministry said on Monday that no new positive cases have been reported in 25 districts in 15 states for the past 14 days. (More here.)