Uttar Pradesh may extend the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14, a senior government official said on Monday citing the rising number of COVID-19 positive cases in the State including those linked to the Tablighi Jamaat.
The number of cases in U.P. touched 308, including 164 linked to the Jamaat, the government said.
Additional chief secretary home department Awanish Awasthi said there was little possibility of lifting the lockdown on April 15, two days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sought suggestions from legislators on resuming normal life from the said date in phases.
The “sensitivity” of COVID-19 cases in U.P. had increased after the fresh rise in numbers, most of them linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, he said at a press briefing.
It was “premature to say” at this point if the lockdown would end on April 14, observed Mr. Awasthi, adding that the government wanted to “ensure a corona-free State” before lifting the restrictions. However, the COVID-19 “load has increased” in the State due to the Tablighi Jamaat cases, he said.
The senior official’s statement came two days after Mr. Adityanath himself said that the lockdown in U.P. would come to an end on April 15, but would be implemented in phases.
“15 April se lockdown samapt hone wala hai (the lockdown will come to an end from April 15),” Mr. Adityanath had said, while interacting with the State’s MLAs via video-conference on Saturday.
“On April 15, once we end the lockdown, if crowds gather at once, then all the efforts will go down the drain,” he had, however, added at the time.
According to government figures, COVID-19 positive cases have been reported in 35 out of the 75 districts in U.P. Of the 35, 28 have cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, with the highest numbers in Agra (29), Ghaziabad (14), Shamli (13), Meerut (13), Saharanpur (13) and Lucknow (12). Overall, Noida has the highest number of cases, with 61. U.P. has so far reported three deaths, one each in Basti, Meerut and Varanasi.