Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today asked the centre to extend the pan-India lockdown till April 30 to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Kejriwal was among several chief ministers who participated in a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this afternoon to discuss whether the lockdown should end on Tuesday amid a spurt in coronavirus cases in the country. India has 7,447 coronavirus cases; 239 have died.
“The decision to continue the lockdown should be taken on a national level,” Mr Kejriwal said.
“If the states decide the length of the lockdown on their own, then the fight against the coronavirus won’t be effective,” said the Chief Minister of Delhi, from where the third-highest number of coronavirus infection has been reported, after Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
“If the lockdown is eased, all kinds of transport, either rail or road, should not be allowed,” Mr Kejriwal said.
All public and private transport, except those handling essential services, are banned across the country. Planes have been grounded.
Many states have said they want to extend the lockdown, while Odisha and Punjab have already announced an extension. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the pandemic that originated from China in December “is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century”. “Life will not be the same ever,” Mr Patnaik said on Thursday.
During today’s video conference, PM Modi – who wore a cotton scarf to shield his face – took feedback from the chief ministers on whether the three-week lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus would end on Tuesday.
“I am available 24×7. Any chief minister can speak to me and give suggestions (on COVID-19) anytime. We should stand together shoulder-to-shoulder,” PM Modi said.
The Health Ministry gave a presentation during the video conference. Then one by one the chief ministers spoke with PM Modi.
Sources say the lockdown may be extended but with many changes this time around. Interstate movement will remain restricted, except for essential services. Schools, colleges and religious institutions are likely to stay closed.