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India sees biggest jump in COVID-19 cases, debate on ending lockdown

India sees biggest jump in COVID-19 cases, debate on ending lockdown

DPA
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday indicated that a complete lifting of a countrywide lockdown on April 15 was unlikely even as India reported its biggest jump in Covid-19-related deaths and cases in the past 24 hours.
Modi in a video conference meeting with leaders of major political parties said several state governments, district administrations and health experts had suggested extending the lockdown, a release from his office said.
“The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency; it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant,” Modi was quoted as saying.
The Indian government announced a 21-day lockdown on March 24 to contain a possible surge of new coronavirus cases in the country of 1.3 billion people. All except those working in health care and providing essential services and commodities were asked to stay at home.
Flights, rail and vehicular traffic were stopped and borders between states sealed.
Most experts have advised a phased exit from the lockdown to balance health concerns with the economic damage it has caused.
Easing the lockdown in pockets that are not affected and sealing Covid-19 hotspots are among the strategies being debated, officials said.
Modi is scheduled to hold a meeting with chief ministers of regional governments on Saturday after which a final decision is expected.
A panel of federal ministers has advised extending the closure of schools and colleges and the banning of religious and other gatherings until May 15.
Regional governments were in the process of identifying Covid-19 hotspots and trying to isolate these, federal Health Ministry spokesman Lav Agarwal said. The government of Uttar Pradesh state, one of the worst affected, said it was sealing off 15 districts completely till April 15.
“Bank employees, media persons who are allowed now elsewhere will not be able to enter these areas,” the state’s health secretary Amit Mohan Prasad said at a briefing in state capital Lucknow.

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