would be extended until May 3. This means we all will have to stay indoors, in a lockdown, until May 3 — with the same discipline and resolve that we have shown so far," said PM Modi in a televised address to the nation at 10 am.
In his address, the PM said we would have to keep an eye on newer hotspots and take stringent measures to curb the spread.
"In the next few days, you will see more strict actions to contain the damage. Till April 20, there will be a careful survey and evaluation to see how each region has fared in stopping the spread. Those areas that show remarkable improvement in terms of not allowing new hotspots to be created will see some relaxation in lockdown
rules after April 20. However, if we see any carelessness or dangers afterwards, these relaxations would be revoked," the PM warned, adding that a detailed list of guidelines on these would be issued by the government tomorrow.
"These steps are being proposed in view of the economic needs of the poor, who rely on the wages they earn on a daily basis. These poor daily-wage workers indeed are my family. They and the mitigation of their problems are my priority. Their welfare has been kept in mind while drafting the new guidelines. Rabi harvest is on in the country these days; the welfare of farmers will be kept in mind. Global experience tells us that when the number of cases reaches 10,000 in a country, 1,500-1,600 hospital beds are required. But in India we have made available as many as 100,000 beds," he added.
Modi had earlier told chief ministers in a video meeting on Saturday, according to a statement, that India had adequate supplies of essential medicines and the central government was taking measures to ensure protective gear and critical equipment were made available to all frontline workers. The next three-to-four weeks would be critical for determining the impact of the steps taken to contain the virus, and there seemed to be a consensus on an extension of lockdown by another two weeks, he had said.
Here is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address to the nation:
"We are well aware of the situation across the world because of the coronavirus
pandemic. Even as the entire world is facing the fury of the virus, we in India have acted in time. When there was not even a single Covid-19 case in India, we had started screening those coming from abroad. When we had about 550 cases, we took the big step of imposing a 21-day nationwide lockdown. All through this turmoil, we have acted in time and taken steps before issues would become big. If we look at other very developed countries and the turmoil they are facing, we are comfortably placed in relative terms. In those countries, thousands of people have sadly died," he said.
"i shudder to think what would have happened if India had not adopted a holistic and integrated approach. The approach we have adopted, i am certain, is the best approach. Social distancing and lockdown have gone a long distance in containing the spread. True, we have had to pay a huge price economically, but that price is little when compared with the value of so many lives. It is but natural that the world is looking to India and the way we have tackled the crisis with our limited resources. Given the way coronavirus
is spreading across the world, governments and authorities are on their toes globally."
The PM also made a seven-point appeal in his address and sought people's support:
First, I appeal to you that you care more for the aged in your family. They should be protected from any infection.
Second, keep your faces covered — wear masks, etc.
Third, to strengthen your immunity, follow the advice of the AYUSH ministry.
Fourth, to help track the spread of the virus, download the Arogya Setu app and inspire others also.
Fifth, as much as possible, take care of the economically weaker sections.
Sixth, be sensitive as an employer towards your employees.
And seventh, have a high regard for the corona warriors of this country who are at the frontlines of our fight against coronavirus.
Even before a formal announcement of the nationwide lockdown extension, 11 states and Union Territories had already announced an extension of the lockdown until April 30. These were Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Pudduchery and Mizoram.
India’s economy, which was already growing at its slowest pace in six years before the coronavirus outbreak, is set to take a severe hit because of the lockdown, say economists, warning that unemployment in the country could rise to record levels.
The 'world's biggest lockdown', as the initial 21-day lockdown has been referred to, may have cost the Indian economy
a whopping Rs 8 trillion already, according to a report.
The lockdown resulted in many thousands of daily-wage labourers losing their jobs in cities and leaving to return to their homes, raising the risk of the spread of coronavirus in the countryside. Their exodus even prompted PM Modi to apologise to the public in one of his Mann Ki Baat broadcasts.
The 21-day lockdown was preceded by a one-day janata curfew on March 22. In a video address on March 19, the PM had announced a janata curfew where members of the public were urged to voluntarily stay indoors.
This was followed by the announcement of a total lockdown for 21 days starting March 24 which led to the shutting down of all offices, educational institutions, factories, etc.