Virus is far from over, lockdown will continue in hotspots: PM to CMs

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In the fourth video-conference with the CMs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the lockdown enforced by the Centre to arrest the spread of novel coronavirus in the country will continue in hotspots.

In the virtual interaction with the CMs of all the states, Modi some relaxations would largely depend on the situation in those states and curbs would be lifted in districts that have shown improvement. A decision on extending the countrywide lockdown would be taken after May 3.

Modi said social distancing and face masks would become a part of daily life, not just in urban areas but also rural areas. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy who was hoping for some relaxations in green zones was disappointed Modi stated that, ‘Virus is far from over. Constant vigil is paramount. Masks will be become part of our lives going ahead. Lockdown has yielded positive results. We were able to save thousands of lives,” Modi stated in his address to the CMs.

Some CMs, including Jagan Mohan Reddy were of the view that any extension of the lockdown should be taken only after May 3, but economic activities should commence in ‘green zones’.

In the last video-conference, Jagan emphasized that the wheel of the economy should be kept moving, while pointing out that the lockdown should be limited only to identified red zones in the state where the Covid-19 was prevalent. Of the total 676 mandals in the state, 37 have been identified as red zones and another 44 as orange zones. AP reported 1,177 with 31 deaths. In Andhra Pradesh, 11 districts are in the red zones including Kurnool, Guntur, Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna, Kadapa, West Godavari, Chittoor, Vishakhapatnam, East Godavari and Anantapur.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao sought more resources to deal with the health and the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and pitched for leveraging Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to counter the same. He called for increasing the pay and number of work days under MGNREGA. He also called for Quantitative Easing (QE) or new money supply by the Reserve Bank of India, increasing the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management limit to 6%. He also sought deferring the interest payments that States are supposed to remit to the central government on their borrowings for at least six months. Telangana reported 1,001, 25 deaths, while Andhra Pradesh continues to see a surge of coronavirus cases. There are over 221 containment clusters in Telangana, 139 are in Hyderabad, where in and out public movement is totally prohibited with high barricades and heavy police deployment.

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