Bengaluru, April 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is for relaxing Covid containment lockdown in a graded manner over the next 15 days," said Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Saturday.
"Modi said lockdown would be relaxed in a graded manner in the next 15 days. We must not compromise on it (lockdown). We have received suggestions to extend it for 15 days," Yediyurappa told reporters here after a marathon meeting between the Prime Minister and chief ministers of all states across the country.
Modi told the chief ministers that the Centre would announce in 2-3 days guidelines for the next 15 days or with effect from April 15 when the present 21-day lockdown ends on April 14.
Modi on March 24 night suddenly declared the 3-week lockdown from March 25 with suspension of public transport services, including buses, trains and flights in the country to contain the virus spread.
"Agriculture and industrial sectors will be given relaxation, while government offices will work with partial strength," said Yediyurappa quoting Modi.
Modi also told the states that the next 2-3 weeks were critical and the people would know in 3-4 weeks if the country had succeeded or failed in its battle against coronavirus.
"If the situation worsens, we have to face the consequences together," the Prime Minister said during his interaction with the states.
Assuring the states that the central government was with them in this hour of grave crisis, Modi advised states not to tolerate any misbehaviour with the medical fraternity and deal with the offenders strongly.
Expressing concern over rising Covid cases in the country, with the virus possibly entering the community stage, Modi said the lockdown and other stringent measures had reduced the cumulative growth rate of patients to 14 per cent from 28 per cent since March 25.
"Modi appreciated some states for sealing the virus hotspots early and advised all to focus on clinical management of patients," said the Chief Minister.
The Centre has identified 142 hotspots across the country and told them to manage them strictly to contain the pandemic.
Assuring the states of supplying sufficient number of PPEs (personal protective equipment) kits, Modi said 2-lakh masks and 2.84-lakh PPEs would be distributed to states on alternate day from April 15.
"The country has 220 labs to test samples and 15,000 tests were being done daily. The number of labs will be 300 by April 30. We intend to enhance the number of tests to 1 lakh a day by May 31," said the Prime Minister.
The states were also free to set up more labs with the approval of the state-run ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) in New Delhi.
In a related development, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was present at the prolonged interaction, advised the states to minimize gathering of people at markets to enforce the lockdown and maintain social distancing.
"Shah also directed the chief ministers to implement the lockdown stringently and seriously to contain the infection," Yediyurappa said.
Modi also advised states not send migrant workers to their villages from cities, as their folks would not allow them back home.
"Fishing activity can be resumed and processing of fish yield can be done. This relaxation is a relief to the people of the state's coastal districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi off the Arabian Sea," added the Chief Minister.
Modi and Shah directed the states to take stringent action against black-marketeers and hoarders of essential goods and medicines.