The state governments of Telangana and West Bengal on Saturday decided to extend the lockdown till April 30. The 21-day nationwide lockdown, imposed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, was to end on April 14.
Odisha and Maharashtra have already extended their lockdowns till April 30. Punjab has extended it to May 1.
According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has so far reported 7,529 cases of the coronavirus, including 504 in Telangana. As many as 242 people have died in the country, and nine in Telangana.
However, Rao said his state has reported 503 cases, 16 more than on Friday. Among these, 14 people have died and 96 recovered, the chief minister asserted. He added that the state government has identified 243 containment zones. The chief minister also said that by April 24, all those who were contacts of people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in New Delhi will be released from quarantine.
Rao told the press that the state government will consider lifting the lockdown in phases after April 30, The Hindu reported. Rao and other chief ministers had earlier on Saturday taken part in a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After the meeting, the Centre said it was considering a request by chief ministers to extend the lockdown nationwide till April 30.
Rao also said that Modi had declined a request by some chief ministers that train services be allowed to operate till April 30 for the purpose of ferrying stranded migrant workers back to their villages. The Telangana chief minister said he may have to seal his state’s 600-km border with Maharashtra, which has reported the most number of cases in the country.
Rao said no religious gatherings will be allowed till April 30. Only food processing units, including rice, flour and oil mills, will be allowed to operate. The government will initiate strict action against those who adulterate food items, the chief minister asserted.
The state will promote all students between Classes 1 and 9, given that the academic year was disrupted due to the pandemic, Rao added. He also denied any relaxation in closure of liquor outlets till the lockdown was lifted.
During a press conference, West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said the state government will impose a 14-day “total lockdown” in 10 hotspots, PTI reported. However, Sinha did not name the hotspots. Sinha’s announcement led to panic-buying as people in large numbers queued outside shops to stock up on essential commodities in Dum Dum, Nagerbazar, Bhawanipore and Alipore areas.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded financial aid from the Centre for West Bengal and a relief package of Rs 10 crore for every state. She also said that the lockdown would be enforced in the state but “with a human face”.
“There is no need to go to the market at a particular hour in the morning because they will remain open from 10 am to 6 pm,” Banerjee said according to The Times of India. She added that the administration will use drones to check if there is overcrowding at markets.
To ease supply of essentials, home delivery of goods will be allowed, Banerjee said. Some enterprises like flour mills and bakeries will also be allowed to resume operations, but in a sanitised manner. Some taxis will ply on the road.
However, all schools in West Bengal will remain closed till June 10.