Sharp downward revisions to economic growth forecasts in the wake of the pandemic point towards sickening levels of unemployment, but Modi urged Indians to maintain the discipline shown in the first three weeks of the lockdown.
“That means until May 3, each and every one of us will have to remain in the lockdown,” Modi said in a televised address to the nation.
“From an economic only point of view, it undoubtedly looks costly right now; but measured against the lives of Indian citizens, there is no comparison itself.”
India’s neighbour, Pakistan, with a population of 205 million, extended its lockdown, due to end on Wednesday, by two weeks. Nepal extended the lockdown of its 30 million people until April 27. Nepal has 16 cases of the virus and no deaths but worries about a spillover from India.
Modi spoke as the latest government data showed the number of people infected with coronavirus in India had reached 10,363, with 339 deaths.
Although the numbers are small compared with hard-hit Western nations, health experts fear that is because of India’s low levels of testing and that actual infection levels could be far higher.
Lacking testing kits and protective gear for medical workers, India has only tested 137 per million of its population, compared with 15,935 per million in Italy, and 8,138 in the United States.