Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with chief ministers of all states on Saturday via videoconferencing. The meeting is key for the decision on the extension of the 21-day lockdown ending on April 14. To check the spread of coronavirus, PM Modi had on March 25 announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown. While many states' CMs have indicated that the central government should extend the lockdown across the country, PM Modi led government is yet to announce its decision. In Saturday's meeting, the PM and all the CMs were seen wearing masks amid rising coronavirus cases, and some state's directive making mask compulsory.
As per sources, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has extended his support for lockdown till April 30. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Odisha government under Naveen Patnaik became the first to extend lockdown till May 1. Punjab government under Amarinder Singh followed and extended the lockdown till May 30. In a late-night decision, CM Ashok Gehlot also extended the lockdown in Rajasthan till May 30.
Earlier, addressing floor leaders of various parties who have representation in Parliament, PM Modi had made it clear that the lockdown cannot be lifted in one go on April 14, asserting that the priority of his government is to "save each and every life". According to an official statement, he said states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
This is for the second time the prime minister will interact with the chief ministers via video link after the lockdown was imposed. During his April 2 interaction with chief ministers, Modi had pitched for a "staggered" exit from the ongoing lockdown. Before the lockdown was announced on March 24, the prime minister had interacted with the chief ministers on March 20 to discuss means to check the spread of the deadly virus.
Meanwhile, as per health ministry, India has conducted 1,44,910 tests on 130,792 suspected COVID-19 patients in 146 government and 67 private laboratories. The country till Saturday reported 1035 new cases in the last 24 hours, the sharpest ever increase in cases and 40 deaths, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 7447. Over 642 patients have recovered and been discharged.