India extends coronavirus lockdown until May 3

People look out from their balconies at Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who was present during a sanitation drive in Mayur Vihar Phase II, on day twenty of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus on April 13, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

Ajay Aggarwal | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

India’s coronavirus lockdown has been extended until May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the nation. The initial 21-day lockdown was due to end on Tuesday. 

Modi explained that the lockdown, as well as other social distancing measures, have benefited the country despite the economic costs incurred. India needs to curb the spread of the virus and take stricter measures to prevent new hot spots from emerging, the prime minister said, according to a CNBC translation of his remarks in Hindi. 

Modi thanked Indians for abiding by the lockdown despite the hardships many of them endured. 

Many states, like West Bengal for example, announced extensions to the lockdown before Modi’s speech.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted about the decision on Saturday before any formal announcements were made from Modi’s government. 

A recent summary of one of Modi’s meetings with all the state chief ministers posted by his office said, “The Chief Ministers suggested that Lockdown should be extended by two weeks.” 

Rise in Covid-19 cases

Despite the decision to practically shut most of the country, coronavirus cases have sharply increased in India. As of 8 a.m. local time, the health ministry reported 10,363 cases of infections and 339 deaths, while it said 1,035 have been cured and discharged. 

The initial lockdown largely affected low-income households and daily wage earners, putting many of them out of work. To combat the sudden economic shock, India had announced a $22.5 billion fiscal stimulus package designed to help poor households through food security and direct cash transfers. 

Experts say India’s economy, which was already growing at the slowest pace in six years before the coronavirus outbreak, is set to take a major hit from the lockdown. 

Priyanka Kishore, head of India and South East Asia economics at Oxford Economics, slashed her full-year growth projection for the 2020 calendar year. She said last week she now expects a 1% contraction versus an expansion of 4.4% predicted a month ago. 

“This not only reflects the substantial hit to the economy from the containment measures that are likely to extend until the end of the second quarter but also India’s inherent economic fragilities and limited policy arsenal, that will likely hinder a quick and decisive rebound in growth,” she said in a note. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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