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'Considerable' Lockdown Relaxations for Many Districts From May 4, Says Home Ministry

A man draws a message on a road raising awareness about the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (REUTERS)

A man draws a message on a road raising awareness about the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (REUTERS)

Official sources have said that the lockdown will only be partially lifted as while the restrictions have slowed the trajectory of cases, the infection curve has still not flattened.

New Delhi: The union home ministry on Wednesday said fresh guidelines to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country that will give considerable relaxations to many districts from May 4 will be released soon.

The ministry spokesperson said on Twitter that the lockdown guidelines currently imposed should be strictly followed till May 3 and details of the new measures will be communicated in the days to come.

"MHA held a comprehensive review meeting on the lockdown situation today. There've been tremendous gains and improvement in the situation due to lockdown till now. To ensure that these gains are not squandered away, the lockdown guidelines should be strictly observed till 3rd May," the ministry spokesperson said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in a meeting with chief ministers on Monday indicated that the coronavirus lockdown would continue beyond May 3 only in hotspots or red zones, while other districts would get relaxations in order to revive economic activity.

The first lockdown was announced by Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the coronavirus endemic. It was later extended till May 3 for a total lockdown of 40 days.

But the government has gradually lifted restrictions over the last two weeks, starting with permission for agricultural activities and industries to open in rural areas. Last week the government also allowed shops selling non-essential goods to reopen in non-hotspot and non-containment zones.

Earlier in the day, the home ministry 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.

Official sources have said that the lockdown will only be partially lifted as while the restrictions have slowed the trajectory of cases, the infection curve has still not flattened.

The union health ministry, in its evening update, said the number of Covid-19 infections has climbed to 31,787, and the total deaths has risen to 1,008, with a record jump of 71 in the last 24 hours.

The number of districts designated hotspots or "red zones" has come down to 129 from 170 a fortnight ago, but in the same period the number of “green zones" (infection-free districts) has also come down from 325 to 307.

During this time, the number of non-hotspot districts, also known as "orange zones", increased from 207 to 297, officials said.

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