The Odisha government on Thursday announced the extension of the lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic till April 30, becoming the first state to do so as the number of patients infected by the novel coronavirus continues to rise across the country.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has asked the Centre not to start train and air services till April 30. “Odisha cabinet decides for extension and also recommends to Union government to do the same,” the state government said in a statement.
“Coronavirus is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century. Life will not be the same ever. All of us must understand this and face it boldly together. With our sacrifice and with the blessing of Lord Jagannath, this too shall pass,” Patnaik said in the statement.
“Educational institutions will remain closed till June 17. Food security of people is of utmost importance. Agriculture, animal husbandry, MGNREGS related activities to be facilitated following social distancing norms,” the state government said. “As earlier, free movement of goods transport will be allowed,” it said.
At least 42 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus in Odisha. Two have died.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday suggested that the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus will be extended and restrictions will not be lifted in one go after April 14. Several hotspots have been singled out in cities across the country for greater effort on isolating them completely.
Odisha is among the states that have made face masks compulsory for people stepping out of their homes. The others are Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Nagaland.
In a video meeting with leaders of all parties, PM Modi reportedly said he would consult with chief ministers but by all accounts, the lifting of the lockdown “is not possible”. He will hold a meeting with the chief ministers on Saturday.
Many states and experts have requested an extension of the lockdown, given the rapid spread of virus cases and warnings that the infection could peak in the coming weeks.