India’s Nationwide Virus Lockdown Set to Extend to April 30


(Bloomberg) —  India is set to extend its 21-day nationwide lockdown until April 30 to allow authorities and health workers more time to control the growing spread of coronavirus infections.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who was meeting with state leaders via video conference on Saturday — made the right decision to extend the lockdown, which had been due to end on April 14. There has been no formal announcement on the extension from the government.

India has adequate supplies of essential medicines and the government was taking measures to ensure protective gear and critical equipment was available for all front-line workers, Modi said in a statement Saturday. The next three-to-four weeks are critical for determining the impact of the steps taken to contain the virus, Modi told the state chief ministers. There seems to be a consensus on an extension of lockdown by another two weeks, he said, according to the statement

The country’s three-week lockdown began on March 25. Modi has described the pandemic as a “social emergency” as infections continue to surge, with the Ministry of Health saying there were 1,035 new infections added overnight Friday. Cases now sit at 7,600 with 249 deaths according to data collected by the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.

Tighter Controls

Some Indian states have already either extended the lockdown or marked out hundreds of high risk zones where even tighter curbs have been put in place. In Maharashtra — home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and at 1,574, the most infections in the country — the lockdown was extended until at least the end of the month, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said Saturday.

Restrictions can be relaxed in some paces and tightened in others after the current 21-day lockdown ends on April 14, Thackeray said, without providing details.

The extension was necessary because the chain of transmission had not yet been broken, said Suresh Kumar Rathi, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Public Health Foundation of India.

“The extended lockdown should be implemented with tighter restrictions — it should be a curfew-like situation,” Rathi said. “First we need to survive. The economy and other things will come later.”

Authorities have sealed settlements, lanes and apartment complexes in the financial capital of Mumbai, as well as in Delhi and the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, allowing in only medical services, surveillance workers and those delivering food and other essential items. Officials have said the pandemic is now largely concentrated in 78 districts across the nation.

Related Slideshow: Life under coronavirus lockdown around the world (Provided by Photo Services)



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