As coronavirus infections cross 5,000: PM Modi says lockdown won’t go fully

By: |
Published: April 9, 2020 3:35:23 AM

With 485 fresh cases of Covid-19 and 25 more deaths across the country in the last 24 hours, the number of cases has now gone up to 5,274 (411 recovered), and the death toll is 149.

In a video conference with floor leaders of various political parties on Wednesday, he said the government’s priority is to save each and every life. In a video conference with floor leaders of various political parties on Wednesday, he said the government’s priority is to save each and every life. (ANI Image)

A week after he told chief ministers to formulate a common but staggered exit strategy to lift the 21-day lockdown across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave the first clear signal that some restrictions are likely to continue post-April 14.

In a video conference with floor leaders of various political parties on Wednesday, he said the government’s priority is to save each and every life. He said the feedback from districts, opinion of experts and experience of other countries all showed that a lockdown is perhaps the only way to check the spread of Covid-19 and save lives.

With 485 fresh cases of Covid-19 and 25 more deaths across the country in the last 24 hours, the number of cases has now gone up to 5,274 (411 recovered), and the death toll is 149.

According to a government statement, Modi emphasised that several state governments, district administrations and experts had pressed for extension of the lockdown.

He, however, said he would hold another round of discussion with the chief ministers on April 11 before taking a final decision.

This was his first interaction with leaders of political parties after announcing the 21-day lockdown on March 24.

“The Prime Minister underlined that the situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’. The country has been forced to take tough decisions, and must continue to remain vigilant,” the statement quoted him as saying.

According to sources, Modi underlined that he had not come across any opinion which suggests that lifting the lockdown at this juncture is “advisable”. The view that is emerging so far, he said, is that lifting the lockdown is not going to be “simple” and the norms for ensuring social distancing will have to be enforced strictly.

Kareeb kareeb mood yeh ban raha hain ki ek dam se lockdown uthana to sambhav nahin hoga (The mood more or less is that it won’t be possible to lift the lockdown in one go),” sources quoted him as saying.

The video conference, which lasted over four hours, was attended by leaders of 16 parties. The Secretaries of various departments, including Home, Health and Rural Development Ministries, gave a detailed presentation on the steps taken by the government to deal with the situation.

Sources said the leaders, cutting across party lines, including Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, urged the government to announce more financial relief to help vulnerable sections, ramp up testing, provide adequate personal protection equipment to doctors and health workers, release various dues of the states and liberally assist them financially in meeting the challenge.

In his reply, Modi admitted that the country is facing serious economic challenges and asserted that the government is committed to overcoming them.

Sources said Modi likened the situation with the Emergency. In such a situation, he said, the government would have to take “apratyashit” (unexpected) and “stern” decisions.

Some leaders like Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut suggested a graded response, saying that restrictions can be eased in districts which have not recorded any positive cases so far.

Azad told reporters that the Congress would support any decision taken by the central government (on the lockdown) in consultation with the state governments.

Modi told the leaders that big changes in the work culture and working style of the country would be needed. Speaking about how the world’s “viewpoint” changed after World War II, he said the world would change post-COVID 19 too.

According to the government statement, Modi noted that the country had witnessed “constructive and positive politics” through the coming together of all sections of polity to present a united front in the battle against the pandemic.

“The Prime Minister underlined the impact of the emerging situation, as witnessed in the resource constraints. Yet, India has been among the few nations to control the pace of spread of the virus till now. He also warned that the situation keeps changing continuously and one needs to maintain vigil at all times,” the statement said.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1SC asks if private hospitals ready to charge Covid-19 patients at Ayushman Bharat rate
2Send stranded migrant workers home in 15 days: SC tells Centre
3Tablighi Jamat event: Investigation on in gathering of people, no need for CBI probe – Centre to SC