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New Delhi, April 14, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced an extension of the nationwide lockdown, imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, till May 3, saying the country could not afford to drop its guard at this stage.
However, he said that there could be a conditional relaxation of the stringent conditions from April 20 in some areas after a review of the situation. At the same time, he declared that the relaxations could be withdrawn if cases of infection were reported in those areas.
In a televised address to the nation this morning, he said the Government would strictly enforce the lockdown in the coming days and urged the people to follow all the guidelines in this regard.
He said his Government was working to ease the difficulties being faced by the poor and other vulnerable sections of the population becasue of the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown.
He said detailed guidelines about the implementation of the guidelines would be issued by the Government by tomorrow.
Modi pointed out that, thanks to the stringent and timely measures taken by the Government, India had handled the crisis much better than many other countries and managed to limit the spread of the virus and the deaths caused by it.
The 21-day lockdown was imposed from March 25 and was due to end at midnight tonight.
Before arriving at a decision on the extension, Modi had held discussions with Chief Ministers of all States through a video conference on April 11.
At that meeting, the Prime Minister had noted that there seemed to be a consensus among the Chief Minsiters that the lockdown should be extended by another two weeks.
At the same time, he underlined that the motto of the Government earlier was "Jaan Hai to Jahaan Hai", but now it was "Jaan Bhi, Jahaan Bhi", which meant he was inclined to accord equal importance now to saving lives and livelihood, unlike the earlier emphasis on saving lives even if it meant a temporary economic setback, both for the nation and the people.
That was the third such interaction between Modi and the Chief Ministers to strategise on the COVID-19 crisis after the earlier ones on March 20 and April 2.
Today's address to the nation was Modi's fourth since March 19 on the coronavirus crisis that has hit the country and the rest of the world.
On April 3, he had posted a short video message in which he had urged the 1.3 billion people of India to light candles, lamps or torches for nine minutes from 9 pm on Sunday, April 5, to dispel the "darkness" spread by the pandemic.
On March 24, he had made a televised address to the nation in which he had announced the three-week nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the pandemic.
On March 19, in his first address to the nation on this issue, he had asked the people to observe a "Janata Curefew" (People's Curfew) on Sunday, March 22 and also to stay indoors as much as possible, except for those rendering essential services, for the next few weeks.
His monthly radio address to the peope, Mann Ki Baat, on March 29 morning, was also devoted entirely to the coronavirus outbreak.
Modi has also been holding video conferences with various groups of people over the past several weeks, including Chief Ministers of all States, Heads of Indian Missions abroad, leaders of social organisations, doctors, nurses and lab technicians, editors, radio jockeys, with representatives of the pharmaceuticals industry and with SAARC Leaders. He also participated in the extraordinary virtual summit of G20 Leaders on March 26.