New Delhi: India has extended the nationwide lockdown, on Friday, to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Covid-19, by another two weeks. This is the second time the lockdown has been extended. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on March 24, first announced that the country would go into a lockdown for three weeks starting March 25. The prime minister then again came on TV to announce the extension of the lockdown for the first time, on April 14.
However, the government significantly relaxed the restrictions imposed in several areas. The government had categorized all the 732 districts of the country as red, orange and green zones. The easing on the restrictions will depend upon the category in which the zone falls.
Now, liquor stores will be allowed to open in both orange and green zones. Standalone liquor shops will also be allowed to open in red zones but not those shops which are in market complex or a mall. Similarly, e-commerce will be allowed for both essential and non-essentials goods in orange and green zones. E-commerce in red zones will be restricted for only essential goods.
However, these relaxations will not be applicable for containment areas, which will continue to be under strict curfew-like lockdown.
Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the chief of defence staff, General Bipin Rawat, accompanied by the Air chief, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria; the Army chief, General MM Naravane; and the Navy chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, addressed the media in a news conference in New Delhi. They thanked the frontline workers in the fight against the coronavirus for their immense contribution.
The CDS said the three services have planned special activities for Sunday, May 3, including a cross-country flypast by IAF planes, including fighter jets, from Assam’s Dibrugarh to Gujarat’s Kachchh, from Jammu & Kashmir’s Srinagar to Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. The Army on its part will play bands in hospitals, especially where patients are treated for coronavirus infection across the country. It will also lay wreaths on police memorials. The Navy will light up its warships in the seas to pay their respects and show their appreciation for the “coronavirus warriors”
Trains for stranded people start
After the government allowed workers, students, tourists, etc, in various parts to travel to their destinations, a special train, Shramik Special, ferrying over 1,200 stranded migrant workers from Telangana to Jharkhand reached Hatia, on Friday night. The Jharkhand government, after following the set coronavirus protocols, then took the passengers to their respective districts in buses.
Apart from Jharkhand, many other states, including Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, had also requested for special trains to ferry migrant workers back home.
The railways has announced five more Shramik Special trains. They are Aluva to Bhubaneswar, Jaipur to Patna, Kota to Hatia, Nasik to Bhopal and Nasik to Lucknow.
According to the railways, only 54 passengers are allowed per coach, which has a capacity of 72 in order to follow social distancing norms. In coupes, six passengers have been allowed, instead of eight.
Railways start 'Shramik Special' Trains to move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to lock down— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) May 1, 2020
Trains will be run from point to point on the request of both the concerned State Governmentshttps://t.co/XlDGtrmQXN pic.twitter.com/cFQkkZuZSS
Covid-19 cases surge in country
As India is ramping up the number of daily tests on people for coronavirus, the country is witnessing a surge of coronavirus cases. On Friday, India saw 2,394 new Covid-19 cases taking the total number of the cases, so far, to over 37,000. The country also witnessed 69 new Covid-19 deaths taking the overall death toll by the viral infection to over 1,200.
The United States continues to lead the world in both the number of coronavirus infections and deaths caused by it. The number of infections in the country has crossed 1.31 million and the death toll has crossed 65,500.
Latest coronavirus India stats:
- Confirmed: 37,257
- Deaths: 1,223
- Recovered: 10,007
Latest worldwide coronavirus stats:
- Confirmed: 3,398,467
- Deaths: 239,448
- Recovered: 1,080,084
Top 5 countries with coronavirus infections:
- United States: 1,131,030
- Spain: 242,988
- Italy: 207,428
- United Kingdom: 177,454
- France: 167,346
Top 5 countries with coronavirus deaths are:
- United States: 65,753
- Italy: 28,236
- United Kingdom: 27,510
- Spain: 24,824
- France: 24,594
[This story was last updated at 9.15am on May 2, 2020.]