The Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha has decided to extend the lockdown in the state till April 30. The decision was taken during a Cabinet meet presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar via video-conferencing. The Chief Minister also spoke to top government officials and reviewed the situaiton beofre announcing the decision.
With this decision, Odisha has become the first state to extend the lockdown beyond April 14, the day the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ends. There have been reports suggesting that the Centre too is considering the suggestion by some states to extend the nationwide lockdown in view of the rising coronavirus cases. A final call on that is expected after the Prime Minister holds a meeting with all chief ministers on April 11.
Besides extending the lockdown, CM Patnaik said that all educational institutions in the state will remain closed till June 17 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Besides, he said that the state government will provide three months free ration to the people.
“The State Cabinet which met today decided that save the lives of people if the top most priority at this juncture. Accordingly, we have decided to extend the lockdown till April 30th,” Patnaik told reporters after chairing the meet.
Several states have already urged the Centre to extend the lockdown as it is the only effective measure to check the spread of coronavirus as there is no vaccine or medicine availble to contain the virus.
Patinail also recomended to the Centre to extend the nationwide lockdown up to April 30.
“At this crucial juncture one has to decide between protecting lives of people and economic activity,” the CM added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an all-party meet with the floor leaders made it clear that lifting the lockdown in one go on April 14 was not possible and that he will take a decision after talking to the Chief Ministers on April 11.
The eastern state has reported 44 positive cases of coronavirus so far. The number of Covid-19 cases in India reached 5,734 on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said. A total of 166 people have lost their lives so far.
Experts have said that the lockdown is the only measure available in the current scenario to contain the spread of coronavirus and minimise the loss of human lives. The sweeping 21-day lockdown was announced by PM Modi on March 24 that halted all economic activities including the movement of raod, rail air traffic.