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Government Considering Lockdown Extension After Requests From States, Experts

India is currently under the 21-day lockdown since March 25, with only essential services exempted, to contain the highly infectious coronavirus.

New Delhi| The Central government is considering extending the 21-day lockdown, which will end on April 14, till the end of the month after many states and experts made a request for it.

PM Narendra Modi, who announced the lockdown on March 24, had said yesterday that in the fight against the highly contagious virus, people must be prepared for the long haul.

At a cabinet meeting, he had urged ministers to come up with a “graded plan”, which was seen by many to indicate a gradual rollback.

Just on Monday, Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had said he will appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus in the country. It was announced on March 24 by the Prime Minister.

“My personal opinion is that lockdown has to continue longer. We need to save lives, later we can save the economy,” Mr Rao, whose state has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases, said on Monday.

Rao also cautioned that if the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted it could cost lives.

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Before KCR, as the Telangana chief minister is popularly known, a top bureaucrat in Uttar Pradesh also hinted that the lockdown may not be lifted in the state on April 14.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot favoured a phased withdrawal of restrictions. “We cannot withdraw lockdown immediately, it has to be done in a phased manner,” Mr Gehlot was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

A senior bureaucrat in Punjab has also favoured an extension of the lockdown. On Friday, a minister in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country, also said that the restriction should not end on April 14.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said that lifting of lockdown in the state after April 14 will depend upon the compliance by people to the government directives, two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at a “staggered exit” from the curbs.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has increased to 4,421, including 117 deaths, the Health Ministry said in its latest briefing on Tuesday. Of this 325 people have recovered. Maharashtra remains the worst affected states with 891 confirmed cases and 52 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu (621 cases and 6 deaths) and Delhi (525 cases and 7 deaths).

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