Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to extend a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, without disclosing how long the extension would be for.
Earlier in the day, Modi held a video conference call with several state ministers to decide on the future course as the current 21-day lockdown ends on Tuesday.
Kejriwal said Modi had “taken (a) correct decision to extend (the) lockdown”, but did not give further details.
“Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
The number of coronavirus infections in India rose to 7,447 on Saturday, with the capital city New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai fast emerging as hotspots. There have been 239 deaths.
Several states had urged Modi to extend the lockdown, even amid rising concerns that the restrictions have put millions of poor people out of work and forced an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.
The government said on Twitter that operations of the marine fishing and the aquaculture industry will be exempted from the lockdown restrictions.
Some 81 migrant workers were arrested in the western city of Surat after they started fires and threw stones in protests late on Friday evening, demanding to be allowed to go back to their home areas, police said.
“The workers are without work because of the lockdown, and are struggling to sustain themselves,” one police official said.
Officials have said widespread virus infections could be disastrous in a country where millions live in slums and the health system is already overburdened.