- Centre likely to extend nationwide lockdown beyond April 24.
- Without lockdown, India would have had 200,000 infections by now.
- PM Modi discusses with CMs the emerging situation.
- After Odisha, Punjab, Delhi also favours extension.
New Delhi: Amid intense speculation about extension of ongoing lockdown beyond April 14, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday said the total number of Covid-19 infections in India would have been around 200,000 by now had a pro-active Centre not clamped a 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 24.
Addressing journalists at his daily briefings about coronavirus pandemic here, Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal said India would have been burdened with 200,000 cases by now if it had not imposed a countrywide lockdown three weeks ago.
Giving details about the available health infrastructure in India, he said the country currently had 100,000 isolation beds and 11,500 ICU beds reserved for Covid-19 patients across the states and Union Territories. India has 586 Covid-19 dedicated hospitals. Even bogies of trains have been readied with 20,000 beds.
By Saturday, the total number of Covid-19 cases in India increased to nearly 7,500 while 239 died and 642 cases recovered. Globally, the pandemic had claimed over 103,000 lives and infected more than 17.13 lakh others. Nearly 388,555 people had recovered.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a video-conference with the chief ministers to update them and get their views on the emerging situation.
The Centre said it is considering a request made by most chief ministers to extend the nationwide lockdown until April 30. “Most states requested Modi to extend the lockdown for two more weeks,” the government’s principal spokesperson, KS Dhatwalia, tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the “PM has taken correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it (lockdown) is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is important to extend it.”
Early this week, Odisha and Punjab governments had announced extension of the lockdown until April-end.
This time, the lockdown extension is expected to be more stringent with marketing even vegetables and fruits being banned. Many states have witnessed the sudden rush of people to vegetable and fruit markets in blatant violation of lockdown restrictions.