Italy has extended coronavirus lockdown until May 3, rejecting calls by business leaders to allow a gradual restart of the economy.
India has also done same but with no indication of the duration of the extension.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the restrictive measures “are bearing fruit” hence the need to extend the lockdown.
“If we yield now we would risk, as our experts tell us, losing all the positive results we have achieved so far,” he told reporters.
With a ban on non-essential business crippling Europe’s weakest major economy, Conte said he was giving a limited range of business and shops a waiver to resume activity.
He held out the prospect of a gradual restart of normal life after May 3, though strict health protocols would remain in force.
Conte named Vittorio Colao, former chief executive officer of Vodafone Group Plc, to head a task force that will help map Italy’s exit from the lockdown. The country “can’t wait for the virus to disappear completely,” Conte said.
India has also extended lockdown
The chief Minister of Delhi State Arvind Kejriwal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided that the extension was inevitable if the spread of the coronavirus must be curbed.
But Kerjriwal did not disclose how long the extension would last.
Modi had earlier yesterday held a video conference call with several state ministers to decide on the future course as the original 21-day lockdown ends on Tuesday.
“Today, India’s position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
The number of coronavirus infections in India rose to 7,447 yesterday, with the capital city New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai fast emerging as hotspots. There have been 239 deaths.
Several states had urged Modi to extend the lockdown, even amid rising concerns that the restrictions have put millions of poor people out of work and forced an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.