Centre says no plans to extend lockdown period
India has reported a smaller number of coronavirus cases and deaths compared with the US, Italy, which are among the hardest hit, and China, where the pandemic originated from. Experts have warned the cases could soon surge in India and overwhelm its public healthcare system.Updated: Mar 31, 2020 10:11 IST
New Delhi: The government on Monday denied as “baseless” rumours and media reports claiming it will extend the 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed last week to halt the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“There are rumours and media reports, claiming that the government will extend the lockdown when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless,” the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) said on Twitter.
Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, who is the senior-most civil servant, told a news agency that he is surprised to see such reports. “There is no such plan for extending the lockdown,” said Gauba.
A Union home ministry official, who did not wish to be named, echoed Gauba and added they are focussed on containing the spread of virus, procuring the necessary medical equipment, streamlining the movement of essential items and identifying the patients.
The government’s clarifications came as hundreds of thousands of migrant workers left jobless because of the lockdown, which is due to end on April 15, have fled to the countryside. The workers have defied the lockdown and left cities such as Delhi for their homes on foot in absence of public transport.
India has reported a smaller number of coronavirus cases and deaths compared with the US, Italy, which are among the hardest hit, and China, where the pandemic originated from. Experts have warned the cases could soon surge in India and overwhelm its public healthcare system. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown last week saying it was the only way of stopping the pandemic.
Modi on Sunday apologised to the public for imposing the lockdown, calling it harsh but necessary to win the battle against the pandemic.
The PIB separately on Monday said the government has placed orders for 21 lakh PPEs (personal protective equipments), coveralls after 11 manufacturers have cleared quality tests. Currently, it added, these manufacturers are supplying 6-7,000 coveralls per day and this is expected to go up to 15,000 daily.
Further, an order for one million PPE kits from Singapore has been placed. A South Korean supplier having tie ups in Vietnam and Turkey has also been identified for 20 lakh PPE kits. Similarly, two domestic producers are supplying 50,000 N95 masks daily and increasing their capacity to 1 lakh daily, the PIB added.
The PIB said supply orders have also been placed abroad for the supply of ventilators. Suppliers in China were also being approached for sourcing 10,000 ventilators, it added.