India it currently under a 21 day lockdown that is attempting to flatten the curve when it comes to the novel coronavirus. People have been asked to stay at home as much as possible, and most businesses -- apart from essential services -- have been closed. Public spaces such as malls and gyms and parks are shut and even stores that are not selling essential items are closed. Transportation systems, such as the Indian Railways and nearly all passenger flights too are not available at this time.
The question of the hour however is whether this lockdown will be extended, or whether it will cease on April 14. While officials including Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba has denied reports claiming that the lockdown will be extended, the news has been doing the rounds for some time now.
"There are rumours and media reports, claiming that the Government will extend the lockdown when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless," PIB had written on Twitter, fact-checking the rumours. Gauba himself had told ANI that he was "surprised by the reports.
"There is no such plan of extending the lockdown," he had said on March 30.
Alert : There are rumours & media reports, claiming that the Government will extend the #Lockdown21 when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless#PIBFactCheck#lockdownindia#coronaupdatesindia#IndiaFightsCorona— PIB India 🇮🇳 #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) March 30, 2020
Since then the number of cases in the country has steadily risen, clocking in at a little over 4000 as of Monday morning. The death toll has risen to 100.
And now, it would seem that the government has not completely ruled out the option of a lockdown extension. According to a News18 report that quotes government sources, the restrictions that have been put in place may be continued -- at least for some areas.
Several states appear to be in favour of this idea. Last week, on Saturday, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope urged people to be disciplined and announced that if people continued to step outside their homes unnecessarily, and the number of cases continued to rise, the lockdown may have to be extended.
At the time he had said that should it come to that, the lockdown would be extended for certain parts of the state. He had told Reuters that this might mean an extension of about two weeks for Mumbai and other urban areas.
The government seems to be of a similar mind. As per the News18 report, officials may be contemplating a localised lockdown extension for virus hotspots, rather than a nation-wide lockdown. Sources told the publication that a final decision would be taken by the Prime Minister after he was apprised of the situation.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had advocated a staggered lifting of the lockdown, reportedly to ensure that people don't emerge all at once, after restrictions are lifted.