New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The video conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief ministers of all states have begun. The meeting is underway to decide whether the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed to control the coronavirus oubtreak should be extended in the country or not.     

In his last meeting with the CMs on April 2, PM Modi had sought suggestions for a "staggered" exit from the ongoing lockdown. 

According to media reports, PM Modi may address the nation on Sunday evening to announce the decision on extension of lockdown. 

Addressing floor leaders of various parties who have representation in Parliament, on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi had made it clear that the lockdown cannot be lifted in one go on April 14, asserting that the priority of his government is to "save each and every life".

According to an official statement, he said states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Odisha has taken a lead and has extended the lockdown till April 30. "Prime Minister Modi made it clear that lockdown is not being lifted and also that the life pre-corona and post-corona will not be same," Biju Janata Dal leader Pinaki Misra had told PTI after Wednesday's interaction.

Meanwhile, other CMs, including Telangana’s K Chandrashekar Rao and Punjab's Captain Amarinder Singh, have also made a strong case for the extension of the ongoing lockdown.

The lockdown, if extended, could come with some relaxations keepping in mind the sagging economy due to the virtual nationwide shutdown. 

The meet comes amidst indications that the Central government may extend the lockdown across the country beyond April 14 after several states have favoured the extension to contain the fast-spreading virus, as the positive cases in the country show no signs of any let up.

News agency ANI on Tuesday quoted government sources saying that the Centre was considering the requests by several state governments to extend the lockdown in wake of the sharp spike in cases.

In a report, news agency PTI cited unnamed sources that a group of ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 had recommended extension of closure of all educational institutions and restricting all religious activities having public participation till May 15 irrespective of whether the government extends the 21-day lockdown or not. 

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday gave a statement that supported calls for extending the lockdown. “Between the considerations of the health of the people and stabilization of our economy being debated, the former shall take precedence over the later. In my view, while the concerns of economy can wait for another day, that of health can’t,” he said.

India has so far reported over 6,000 cases of novel coronavirus while the death toll rose to 199. 

While the sudden spike in cases is worrying, the brunt on the economy due to the lockdown cannot be ignored either. News18 quoted sources saying that many secretaries as well as the top brass of the Niti Aayog feel a complete lockdown after April 15 will cause significant damage to the economy.  

(With agency inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta