No decision on extending national lockdown, don't speculate: Govt

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

A North MCD worker carries out sanitization work in a locality in the Civil Lines area in the view of the coronavirus outbreak during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
The government hasn’t decided if a three-week lockdown of the country should be extended to help fight the coronavirus, said a civil servant on Tuesday as he called media reports "speculation".

Only critical services are working in the lockdown that is to end on April 14 and has derailed large parts of the economy and forced thousands of poor, immigrant workers to leave cities and trudge to their villages.

"No decision on extending lockdown as yet (taken), please don't speculate," said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, at a press conference in New Delhi.

News agency PTI quoting an unnamed source said the government is considering extending the lockdown based on requests from states. "A lot of state governments as well as experts are requesting the Central Government to extend the lockdown. The Central government is thinking in this direction," the source was quoted as saying in PTI’s report.

PTI said in another report citing unnamed sources that a group of ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 had recommended extension of closure of all educational institutions and restricting all religious activities having public participation till May 15 irrespective of whether the government extends the 21-day lockdown or not.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday gave a statement that supported calls for extending the lockdown. “Between the considerations of the health of the people and stabilization of our economy being debated, the former shall take precedence over the later. In my view, while the concerns of economy can wait for another day, that of health can’t,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a video meeting with his council of ministers on Monday, had said authorities must prepared to lift the lockdown in phases.

Several chief ministers have favoured the extension of the lockdown in the country to contain the fast-spreading virus, as the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,421 and death toll touched 117.

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