India PM extends lockdown two weeks to May 3

NEW DELHI — India’s prime minister announced the extension to the country’s lockdown for 1.3 billion people until May 3, but said there may be some easing in restrictions in people’s movement after one week to help the poor daily wage earners and those working in agriculture sector.

In an address to the nation on radio and television yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown will be eased only in areas which do not show any deterioration in the spread of coronavirus.

He said India has paid a big economic price by imposing the lockdown, but it was much better placed than many other countries as it had acted quickly imposing travel and quarantine restrictions even before the first death was reported in the country. He said the lockdown and social distancing among people have worked in their favour.

India has sealed hundreds of residential districts as containment zones across the country, ramping up a low rate of testing. Modi said all-out efforts are being made to ensure that no new hot spots emerged in the country.

The Prime Minister said that there was a consensus amongst India’s states on extension of the lockdown by another two weeks. He said there was no shortage of medicines and foodgrain in the country and promised an efficient supply chain to the people.

A man watches on his mobile phone as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation in a televised speech about the COVID-19 situation in India. PHOTO: AP