It seems unlikely that the Union government will lift the nationwide lockdown, imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, after completion of 21 days. This happens to be the only conclusion based on several reports that have come to the fore in recent days.
The Union government has remained non-committal on ending the lockdown so far. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday (April 6) said the decision to end the lockdown will be taken at the right time, which will be in the interests of the nation and its people.
“We’ve formed empowered groups to monitor the situation. We’re monitoring the world situation every minute. The decision on ending the lockdown will be taken in the national interest. The decision will be declared at the right time,” he said after a meeting of the union cabinet via video link on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the lockdown on March 24 till April 15 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, the government has not yet announced whether the lockdown will be lifted or extended, keeping in view the increasing number of cases in the country.
Meanwhile, a top official in Uttar Pradesh claimed on record that people may have to wait longer for the lockdown to be lifted, reported NDTV. It quoted the top official as saying the state will lift the lockdown only after ensuring it is free of coronavirus cases.
“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,” it quoted Awanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, as saying.
However, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath contradicted him and asserted the lockdown in the state will be lifted on April 15. He also cautioned that a mechanism should be evolved to avoid crowding or else all efforts will go in vain.
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“The lockdown will be lifted on April 15. We have to ensure crowding doesn’t take place. Your help and cooperation is needed in this regard. The reason is that after the lockdown is lifted and if crowding takes place, all our efforts will go in vain,” Adityanath told the MPs of the state on Sunday.
Last week, Prime Minister Modi had asked chief ministers of all the states and union territories to formulate a common exit strategy from the lockdown. “It is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends,” PM Modi had said.
A prolonged lockdown could be impact the livelihoods of the lakhs of labourers and daily wage earners, and can even lead to food crisis and hunger deaths. But in view of the situation, the Centre may opt for need-based lockdown in certain pockets of the country.
So far 4,281 cases of novel coronavirus have been reported from across the country, including 111 deaths, according to the latest reports.