- Unemployment rising to record levels amid lockdown
- Four states have already extended the lockdown till April 30
- India has recorded over 10,000 coronavirus cases and 339 deaths so far
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the coronavirus lockdown, after requests from states to extend it. The Prime Minister is widely expected to announce a roadmap for an extended lockdown to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
During his meeting with 13 Chief Ministers on Saturday, PM Modi had agreed that a longer lockdown was necessary to fight the highly contagious COVID-19, which has infected over 10,000 in India, but had talked about saving livelihoods as well as lives.
There are concerns that India's economy, which was already growing at its slowest pace in six years, will take a severe hit amid the lockdown, with unemployment rising to record levels. The restrictions have put millions of poor people out of work and hit small shops and industries hard.
There is a proposal to mark districts as red, orange and green based on the intensity of the Covid 19 infection and continue a complete lockdown or partial restrictions accordingly.
PM Modi had indicated in the four-hour meeting that while saving lives is priority, the economy also needs to restart. "Jaan bhi, jahaan bhi (both life and economy are important)," he told the Chief Ministers, compared to what he had said three weeks ago while announcing the total nationwide lockdown - "Jaan hai toh jahaan hai (the world exists if life exists)."
Though there was nothing official after the meeting, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted: "PM has taken correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India's position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is important to extend it."
Most chief ministers who attended the video conference pointed out that they may not have the massive resources needed to deal with a spurt in COVID-19 cases if the lockdown is removed sooner. The chief ministers asked the centre for relief packages.
India has 10,363 coronavirus cases, including 339 deaths.
Last month, the Prime Minister had addressed the nation twice. On March 19, he had called for a ''janata curfew'' on March 22, a Sunday. On March 24, he announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown to fight the deadly virus, which has infected 1.8 million worldwide.