Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao today said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an extension of the lockdown --which is expected to continue till April 14 - arguing that there is no other option. "We need to save lives, we can save the economy later," the Telangana Chief Minister said he told the Prime Minister.
Last month, PM Modi had declared a three-week lockdown - the country has eight more days to go. The government is considering modalities of lifting the lockdown - the Prime Minister has asked Chief Ministers for suggestions on the matter.
The Centre, though, hasn't been forthcoming on when the lockdown will be lifted. Indicating that the situation is fluid, Union minister Prakash Javadekar today said: "We are monitoring the world situation every minute. A decision will be taken in the national interest. A decision in this regard will be declared at the right time".
At a press conference today, Mr Rao admitted that the lockdown was taking a huge toll on the economy. "Every day we are losing Rs 400 to Rs 450 crore. Just in April four days should have got Rs 2,400 crore, but we got only Rs 4 crore," he said.
But despite the situation, "we have no other option but lockdown for a country like ours," he said, pointing to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
Over the last 24 hours, the coronavirus cases in the country have jumped by 700 to cross the 4000-mark. Another 32 people have died, taking the total to 111.
Calling COVID-19 a "huge global crisis", the Chief Minister said 22 nations have declared 100 per cent lockdown, and 90 have gone for a partial lockdown.
"It was a good decision to do a total lockdown. So we have been able to contain hopefully," he said, adding that a survey "by Boston Consulting Group, says there should be lockdown till June 3".
That the lockdown might be extended, at least by the country's largest state, was hinted at by a top official in Uttar Pradesh.
"When we open the lockdown it will be after we have ensured that the state is corona free. If even one corona positive person is left, it will be very difficult to open the lockdown and that is why it may take time," said Awanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh.