National lockdown extended till May 3. Why April 20 is still a crucial date
In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the national lockdown till May 3 but held out hope that the lockdown norms, to be enforced strictly for the next one week, could be relaxed for localities that do not have a single case from April 20.
For the next one week, PM Modi said, the government will meticulously track the enforcement of lockdown and spread of the disease right down to the police station level. He asked people to step up too, describing the next one week as an agni pariksha, or trial by fire.
“Localities that pass this agni pariksha and do not allow the disease to spread, can get permission for some essential activities,” PM Modi said in his televised address that announced extension of the national lockdown. This was his third in a month.
“But remember that this permission will be conditional. If lockdown rules are violated and coronavirus spreads, all permissions will be cancelled. So you should not be negligent nor let others be negligent, PM Modi said.
The prime minister said this relaxation was being proposed to enable the poor to earn their daily livelihood.
Watch: PM Modi extends lockdown till 3 May; promises calibrated withdrawal from 20 April
The last time he addressed the nation was on 24 March when he announced the national lockdown to stop the coronavirus disease from spreading. By then, India had reported 536 cases and 10 deaths; Delhi had reported 30.
As PM Modi stood in front of the country again on Monday, he wore a home-made mask that he removed moments before speaking.
Coronavirus has, despite the lockdown spread rapidly, infecting over 10,000 people and killing 339. Delhi has reported over 1,500 cases.
An analysis by the health ministry says the lockdown has already saved thousands of people from being infected. PM Modi also spoke about the crucial role the lockdown had played to slow down the spread of the disease. But he acknowledged it had come at a price.
“I know that many of you faced problems. Some had trouble finding food, some others had difficulties to go from one place to another,” he told the millions watching him on television and the Internet.
“I respectfully bow to the people of India for their sacrifice” he said. But these sacrifices had helped save lives and placed India in a much better position than many other countries fighting coronavirus.