- PM Modi has suggested that lockdown will be extended
- Several coronavirus hotspots identified in cities across the country
- Masks compulsory in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Odisha
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Twenty coronavirus hotspots in Delhi have been sealed, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Wednesday, assuring that the government will ensure delivery of essential items in these areas.
Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Nagaland and Odisha have made face masks compulsory for people stepping out of their homes.
"Wearing of facial masks can reduce the spread of coronavirus substantially. Therefore, it has been decided that facial masks will be compulsory for anyone stepping out of their house. Cloth masks will be eligible too," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday.
In a video meeting with leaders of all parties, PM Modi reportedly said he would consult with chief ministers but by all accounts the lifting of the lockdown "is not possible".
Many states and experts have requested an extension of the lockdown, given the rapid spread of virus cases and warnings that the infection could peak in the coming weeks.
The Supreme Court said the government must ensure coronavirus tests are conducted for free in both state-run and private diagnostic labs. Whether the private labs should be reimbursed by the government, will be decided later.
A Group of Ministers has suggested that schools, colleges and religious centres remain shut for more weeks. It is unlikely that rail travel, buses, metros and religious gatherings will be allowed anywhere in the country.
The crisis for thousands of migrant workers, rising unemployment and the strain on businesses has increased the pressure on the government to re-open parts of Asia's third largest economy. Among the plans in discussion is to seal off coronavirus hotspots while easing restrictions in other parts of the country.
US President Donald Trump thanked India for agreeing to export hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug which is being tested as a coronavirus cure. He had warned of "retaliation" if India did not agree to export it.
More than 1.46 million cases have been officially recorded and at least 86,289 have died in 192 countries since the virus emerged in China in December. More than 60,000 have died in Europe, including 17,669 in Italy, 14,555 in Spain, 10,869 in France and 7,097 in Britain, according to news agency AFP.