Addressing the nation this morning, PM Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown to be extended till May 3.

The announcement comes on what was to be the last day of the initial three-week lockdown, which began on March 25.

“I salute all you citizens,” PM Modi said in the televised address, thanking Indians for their support in the fight against the virus.

India has reported over 9000 active cases and 340 death cases so far. States like Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana had already extended the lockdown till April 30.

PM Modi suggested that the rules could tighten further over the next week, but he did not give more details. He said the government would issue “guidelines” soon.

The Centre will closely monitor hotspots in states across India and added that those areas where there are no hotspots will get partial relief. 

“Till April 20, all districts, localities, states will be closely monitored, as to how strictly they are implementing norms. States, where hotspots are contained, could be allowed to resume some important activities, but with certain conditions,” the PM said.

“These have been made thinking of our poor and migrant workers, daily-wage workers and farmers,” he said.

A severe hit on the poor

Although the lockdown has restricted the spread of Coronavirus in the country, at the same time the hit on India’s economy and the poor can’t be overlooked.

Access to food, medicines and emergency medical facilities has become difficult for the poor. The lockdown, says an economist, “seems to be the case of the privileged transferring their epidemic risk to the underprivileged”.

Millions of daily wage labourers lost their job, forcing them to make the long trek back to their home villages, hundreds of kilometres away, often on foot. May reports suggesting that more than 25 of these daily wage labourers dies on the way back home.

State governments have taken steps to help by providing hundreds of thousands of free meals to help those for whom the lockdown means immediate hunger.

Farmers have complained of a lack of workers to harvest crops while the grounding of thousands of trucks by the lockdown has hampered food transport.

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