Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a second meeting with chief ministers of states and Union Territories on Saturday to take a final call on extending the countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak, PTI reported. In the first meeting, Modi had asked all chief ministers to provide a “common exit strategy” on lifting the lockdown in a staggered manner.

The meeting is expected to held via video conferencing at 11:00 am, after which the final decision on the lockdown is likely to be announced.

On Wednesday, the prime minister held a video meeting with leaders of all parties that have five or more Parliament MPs. During this meeting, he suggested that the nationwide lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic may have to be extended after April 14.

“Massive behavioural, social and personal changes will have to take place,” the prime minister reportedly told leaders in the video conference. Modi had pointed out that states, district administrations, and experts had also recommended an extension of the lockdown to contain Covid-19.

“Government’s priority is to save each and every life,” the prime minister had said. “Situation akin to ‘social emergency’ has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant.”

The 21-day lockdown is set to end next week, but 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 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.

The Union health ministry on Friday morning said the total confirmed cases in India are 6,761. Out of these, 206 patients have died, and 6,039 are being treated.

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