Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had a 6-hour video conference with chief ministers (CMs),would address the nation at 8 PM today.
Even as some CMs want the existing lockdown to continue, in the meeting , Modi promised resumption of more economic activities in the weeks to come and asked states to take the lead in deciding the contours of the next phase of lockdown and share their strategies with him by May 15.
“Slowly but surely, economic activities have begun to pick up in several parts of the country. In coming days, this process will gather steam. We must realise that the fight against Covid-19 has to be more focused now,” Modi said, suggesting a more granular planning beyond May 17, when the current phase of lockdown ends.
“We now have reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including the worst-affected areas. Over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the district level,” he said, indicating a more decentralised approach to fighting the virus. “I want states to make a blueprint on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown.”
Today is the forty-ninth day of India’s nationwide lockdown, which is meant to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic. Known COVID-19 cases in India stand at 70,756. The death toll in India due to the outbreak has reached 2,293. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have reported the highest number of cases.
India as on Tuesday has reported 70,756 confirmed cases including 46,008 active cases, 22,454 cured/discharged and 2,293 deaths so far.
Modi has faced increasing calls to end his government’s stringent lockdown of the nation’s 1.3 billion population, with political parties, businesses and citizens saying the containment measures have destroyed the livelihoods of millions that rely on daily wages for sustenance.The shutdown, which has been repeatedly extended to stave off a surge in infections, is in force until May 17.
India’s rising numbers of infections are also the result of increased testing, which has grown from 2,000 tests per day in late March, to 85,000 to 90,000 a day now, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the government’s top body leading the fight against the disease.
Tamil Nadu’s EK Palaniswami said air and train services should not be resumed to his state before May 31, pointing to the increase in coronavirus positive cases in Chennai. Haryana, Assam, and Chhattisgarh CMs also opposed resumption of train services.
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao also opposed resumption of rail services, pointing out that Covid-19 infections are concentrated in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad. “It is also difficult to put all those who travelled by trains under quarantine,” he said.
Maharashtra’s Uddhav Thackeray, Tripura’s Biplab Deb, and Andhra Pradesh’s Y S Jaganmohan Reddy said they wanted some public transport to start.