Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said that the lockdown announced last month to contain the coronavirus infection will extend at least till April 30. The lockdown will end only after the virus is defeated, he said.
"The lockdown will continue from April 14 to April 30. But after April 14, whatever we will do will be according to a plan. For colleges and schools, we are working out plans. For industry also, we are working out plans. When it starts, what will start first, what will the labourers do? All these issues require answers and I will share them with you by the 14th," he said.
Mr Thackeray was one of the 13 chief ministers who discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conference whether the lockdown - scheduled to end on April 14 - should be extended.
The PM at the meeting indicated that the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be extended by two weeks after considering the requests of the chief ministers, who preferred a longer containment period.
"I was asked to speak first at the video conference. I shared my views with the Prime Minister. We have to concentrate in Mumbai and Pune. We have not stopped farming activities anywhere and that will continue. Essential services will continue. Post the 14th, we don't want any chaos in Maharashtra," Mr Thackeray said.
Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country with 1,574 coronavirus cases, including 110 deaths.
"The cases that are being are being detected now are definitely worrying but you will see wherever we find cases we seal it completely. No one is allowed to go inside or come out. We are delivering essentials like bread, vegetables and medicines. The BMC (Mumbai's municipal body) is screening families in all areas that have been sealed," he said.
Mr Thackeray also explained why Mumbai and Pune have emerged as the biggest clusters of the coronavirus infection.
"In Mumbai and Pune, especially Mumbai, there are big airports. It is actually the place through which people enter the country. Symbolically it is like the Gateway of India. When we started screening several countries were not in the list of screening but those countries also had been affected by the coronavirus," he added.
Mr Thackeray said today's video conference with PM Modi was an example of the apolitical, united battle against the coronavirus.
"Every state has chief ministers from different political parties but today everyone has kept their political differences aside and have come together to fight this battle. Everyone is supporting Modiji and Modiji is supporting everyone," he said.
COVID-19 has killed 239 people in the country, with 40 new deaths reported since Friday. The total number of positive coronavirus cases is now 7,447.