India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has extended the country’s lockdown until May.
The nationwide coronavirus lockdown, which first went into effect on March 24 for 21 days, will now last until May 3. The extension comes as India records 339 deaths and grapples with close to 10,000 cases of COVID-19; however, it is believed the case figures could be higher, and may not be reflective of the actual numbers due to inaccessibility of testing in some areas.
Modi made the announcement in a televised address on Tuesday, noting that authorities will inspect all towns, districts and states to ensure they are adhering to the guidelines up until April 20. For areas with lower risk levels, there will be a measure of flexibility after that date.
Modi said: “My request to all my countrymen is that coronavirus will not be allowed to spread across new areas at any cost. We have to be very careful about hotspots. We will have to keep a close watch on the places that are expected to become hotspots.”
The prime minister, who was wearing a scarf over his nose and mouth at the beginning of the address, added that new hotspots of the virus will “further challenge our hard work and penance.”
“Hence, let us extend the strictness and austerity in the fight against corona for the upcoming one week,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bollywood actors such as mega-star Shah Rukh Khan have stepped up aid efforts in the face of the outbreak, with Khan funding 25,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for frontline workers in Maharashtra.
The actor and his wife, Gauri, previously donated their unoccupied four-storey office building to local authorities for use as a temporary quarantine facility. Through his various business ventures, Khan has also made significant donations to the country’s relief funds.
India’s extended lockdown comes a day after France’s president Emmanuel Macron said the country’s lockdown measures would remain in place until May 11, while all festivals and events drawing large crowds are banned until at least mid-July, meaning a cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival is likely.
Meanwhile, in the U.K., a three-week lockdown that went into effect March 23 is also set to be extended.