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New Delhi, April 8, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that several state governments, district administrations and exerts had suggested an extension of the 21-day nationwide lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that is slated to end on April 14.
In an interaction with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament via video conference, Modi said the situation in the country was akin to a "social emergency".
The country has been forced to take tough decisions, and must continue to remain vigilant, he said.
The interaction came at a time when there is a lot of speculation about whether the lockdown would be extended beyond April 14.
The Prime Minister said that the entire world was currently facing the grave challenge of COVID-19, adding that the present situation is an epoch changing event in mankind's history and people must evolve to counter its impact.
He praised the efforts of state governments working together with the Centre in this fight against the pandemic. He noted that the country has witnessed constructive and positive politics through the coming together of all sections of the polity to present a united front in this battle. He also praised the sense of belonging, discipline, dedication and commitment with which each and every citizen is contributing in this endeavour, be it in following social distancing, the "Janata Curfew" or the lockdown, which began on March 25.
Modi underlined the impact of the emerging situation, as witnessed in the resource constraints. Yet, India has been among the few nations to control the pace of spread of the virus till now. He also warned that the situation keeps changing continuously and there was need to maintain vigil at all times.
He said that, in these changing circumstances, the country should simultaneously try to bring about a change in its work culture and working style. He said that the priority of the government is saving each and every life. He added that the country is facing serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them.
Top officials of the Government of India gave detailed presentations on steps being taken to meet the emerging challenges, including the status of the distribution of benefits under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.
An official press release said the leaders thanked the Prime Minister for the meeting, appreciated the timely measures taken by him and said that the entire country is standing united behind him during the crisis.
They talked about boosting the health and morale of the healthcare workers, ramping up testing facilities, the need to assist smaller states and UTs and tackling the challenges of hunger and malnutrition. They also spoke about economic and other policy measures to boost the country’s capability in this battle against the pandemic. Suggestions were given by the leaders on extending the lockdown and on a phased exit after the lockdown ends.
The Prime Minister thanked the leaders for their constructive suggestions and feedback, adding that their commitment to assist the government in this battle reaffirms the democratic foundations of the country and the spirit of cooperative federalism.
The Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, senior officials of Government of India and leaders of political parties from across the country participated in the interaction.