The Government of India is contemplating to extend the nationwide lockdown after receiving requests from several state governments as well as some experts. The ongoing lockdown, which was imposed on March 25 to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, will be lifted on April 15.
"A lot of state governments, as well as experts, are requesting the Centre to extend the lockdown. It is thinking in this direction," government sources were quoted as saying by news agency ANI on Tuesday, March 7.
The development comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Union Ministers to come up with a "graded plan" regarding the lockdown.
People must be prepared for the long haul: PM Modi
PM Modi on Monday, March 6, chaired a meeting of the cabinet via video link to discuss the coronavirus situation in the country.
"Ministers should remain in touch with state and district administration, provide solutions to emergent problems and make district-level micro plans to counter COVID-19," the PM said.
"It is going to be a long haul, we do not have to tire, our resolve and mission are to emerge victorious in the fight against this pandemic," he added.
Post the meet, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Centre is monitoring the world situation every minute. On the possible extension of the lockdown, he said, "A decision will be taken in the national interest and will be declared at the right time."
Experts think 21-days not enough to contain COVID-19
Even though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has appreciated India's proactive decision to impose a 21-day lockdown at the right time, several health experts from across the globe are of the viewpoint that it may not be enough.
Two Indian-origin researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom - Rajesh Singh and R Adhikari - have suggested that India might need a longer lockdown to control the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"Our principal conclusion is that the three-week lockdown will be insufficient. Our model suggests sustained periods of lockdown with periodic relaxation will reduce the number of cases to levels where individualized social contact tracing and quarantine may become feasible," they opined in their paper titled 'Age-structured impact of social distancing on the COVID-19 epidemic in India'.
India's COVID-19 case count has seen a sharp rise in the last few days and is now racing towards the 5000-mark. The death toll due to the China-originated virus has climbed to 136.