AGENCIES, New Delhi: New guidelines to fight COVID-19, which will give considerable relaxations to many districts will come into effect from May 4, when the nationwide lockdown is set to expire, the Union Home Ministry said on Wednesday night.
Details of the new measures will be communicated in the days to come, the Home Ministry spokesperson said on Twitter.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government announced plans to allow lakhs of migrant workers and students stranded at various places for over a month due to the nationwide lockdown to return home.
But with the COVID-19 tally rising further, the lockdown could continue beyond May 3 at least in some form in some parts of the country, becoming “a new normal”, official sources said.
In its evening update, the Union Health Ministry said the number of COVID-19 deaths has risen to 1,008, with a record jump of 71 in the last 24 hours, while the number of confirmed infections has climbed to 31,787.
The number of districts designated COVID-19 hotspots or ‘Red Zones’ has come down to 129 from 170 a fortnight ago, but in the same period the number of infection-free districts or ‘Green Zones’ too decreased from 325 to 307, news agency PTI reported. During this time, the number of non-hotspot districts, also known as ‘Orange Zones’, increased from 207 to 297.
According to sources, the final decision on relaxing lockdown measures will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A panel of ministers led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had recommended the lockdown, imposed on March 25, to be extended till May 15.
Punjab, which has reported 375 cases and 19 deaths, announced extension of the lockdown in the state by two weeks after May 3, though some relaxations have been given in areas that do not fall under the containment or red zones.
In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said experts and doctors are of the opinion that the restrictions imposed to check the spread of COVID-19 should continue in the state till the end of May. She, however, also announced some relaxations, including opening of standalone shops in green zones and non-containment zones with all precautionary and social distancing measures.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has already announced extension of the lockdown in his state till May 7 without any relaxation.
During his last interaction with chief ministers on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told them that the economy would need to be given importance too while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.