The Centre on Monday dispelled all reports claiming that the three-week countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus would be further extended, and said they are baseless rumours. India began its sixth day in lockdown on Monday as confirmed coronavirus cases stood at 1,071. Out of these, 942 are being treated, 29 people have died, 99 have recovered, and one person has migrated.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba said the government till now had made no plans of stretching the lockdown beyond the original three-week period. “I’m surprised to see such reports, there is no such plan of extending the lockdown,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, the Press Information Bureau also claimed that any news of the lockdown being extended is not true. “There are rumours and media reports, claiming that the government will extend the 21-day lockdown when it expires,” the government body said in a tweet. “The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless.”
The announcement comes at a time when India is grappling with a mass migrant workers’ exodus, with thousands of daily wage labourers abandoning large cities after losing their jobs amid the lockdown. Many migrant workers, along with their entire family, attempted to walk back to their home villages after work – and public transport – vanished.
The Centre on Sunday asked all states and Union Territories to seal their borders, as migrant labourers attempted to return home on foot. It further said adequate arrangements should be made for shelter and food for the migrants in their places of work itself.
The mass migration of workers, who later began leaving for their hometowns in packed buses, has sparked fears about the rapid spread of the coronavirus, as all norms of social distancing turned into a farce.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday apologised to Indians who were suffering through hardships during the 21-day nationwide lockdown, saying it was harsh but a necessary step to contain the pandemic.