It will not be possible to lift the lockdown in one go, says Modi
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it won’t be possible to lift the 21 day nationwide lockdown in one go as scheduled for April 14. He, however, noted that he would consult the Chief Ministers before deciding the exit strategy.
- With the Centre expecting an extreme cash crunch due to the COVID-19 crisis, most Central government departments have been asked to cut their first quarter expenditure to 15-20% of the year’s budget estimates. Departments considered crucial to dealing with the pandemic and the resultant lockdown will not be affected by these restrictions.
Focus shifts to contact tracing, infrastructure
- Building hospital infrastructure, aggressive contact tracing and total enforcement of the lockdown with the help of people were the main focus now in the fight against COVID-19.
- He added that the country was facing an unprecedented challenge, in which “we are getting cases of both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients acting as carriers. The need of the hour is to break the transmission, and for that, the lockdown is the key, and we seek the cooperation of people.”
SC bats for free testing
- Tests relating to COVID-19, whether done in approved government or private laboratories, shall be free of cost, the Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday.
Rupee falls 70 paise as virus cases spike sharply
- The rupee declined 70 paisa against the dollar on Wednesday following a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, which could prompt the government to delay the lifting of nationwide lockdown.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reduced the timing of market hours for call money market, government securities market and currency market. These have been functioning between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Post lockdown, CII for phased reopening
- Amid talks over over extending the 21 day nationwide lockdown, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested to the government to follow a phased reopening plan with sectors such as manufacturing and construction, that provide mass employment, restarted first.