Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that the nationwide lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic may have to be extended after April 14, NDTV reported. The number of coronavirus cases rose above the 5,000 mark on Wednesday, and a civic authority official in Mumbai said the city seemed to be in local transmission mode.
On Wednesday, Modi held a video meeting with leaders of all parties that have five or more Parliament MPs and said that he will consult the chief ministers of all states about the lockdown. He, however, said that it looked unlikely that the lockdown could end anytime soon. The prime minister is expected to conduct another video conference with all chief ministers on April 11, reported ANI.
“Massive behavioural, social and personal changes will have to take place,” the prime minister reportedly told leaders in the video conference. He also said that life will not be the same again after the coronavirus pandemic, adding that there would be “pre-corona and post-corona”.
Biju Janata Dal leader Pinaki Misra told PTI that Modi made it clear in the meeting that lockdown will not be lifted in one go on April 14.
The 21-day lockdown is set to end next week, but the chief ministers of several states have either favoured the lifting of the lockdown in a phased manner or an extension. On Tuesday, the Kerala government sent the Centre a report with suggestions about how to lift the nationwide lockdown in three phases, based on the recommendations of an expert committee set up by the state.
The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 5,194 on Wednesday morning, with 149 deaths, the Union Health Ministry said. This is the biggest one-day jump in both the number of cases and deaths so far.
The video conference was Modi’s first interaction with the floor leaders, including those from the Opposition, after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 25 though he had held talks with the chief ministers of all states, including those ruled by non-NDA parties.
The prime minister reportedly pointed out that states, district administrations, and experts had recommended an extension of the lockdown to contain Covid-19, reports PTI. “Government’s priority is to save each and every life,” Modi said. “Situation akin to ‘social emergency’...it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar were among the participants of the meeting. Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader SC Mishra, Lok Janshakti Party’s Chirag Paswan and Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay were among the leaders who joined the prime minister’s video conference.
The prime minister had earlier reached out to Opposition leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, asking for their suggestions on ways to combat the pandemic. Modi had also spoken to former presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee and ex-prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda.