Asserting that lockdown was the nation's sole weapon to fight the coronavirus, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend it beyond April 14 by one or two weeks for saving the lives of people.
While agreeing that continuing the lockdown would impact adversely the economy, he, however, said ways can be found to recover from it once the threat of COVID-19 goes away but human lives cannot be saved.
"I am for the lockdown of the country furthermore after April 15. Because, we can recover from economic problem. But, we cannot recover the lives of the people... So, I propose at least for another one-two weeks. Extension should be at least for one or two weeks more. Then we can review, he told reporters in Hyderabad.
Rao, who has been backing Modi's initiatives in fighting the coronavirus, from the beginning, said given the spread of the virus in the country, lockdown should be its only weapon.
It would be difficult for the country to contain it in view of its poor health infrastructure, he said.
"I appeal to the Honourable Prime Minister, to the Government of India, please extend the lockdown without any hesitation," he said.
Rao further said: "Consult everybody, consult every chief minister, have a video conference with entire country, but take a conscious decision. Because, we have no other weapon in India to contain this dreadful virus. Our only weapon could be extending the lockdown."
If the lockdown was lifted, it would be difficult to control the situation if markets were opened and restrictions on various sectors eased, he said.
"Better is to put the issue before the people and debate," he added.
Recalling that the Prime Minister told him that further consultations would be held, Rao expressed hope that a positive decision would come out.
In the process, it was important to ensure ration for the poor and his government had been taking care of various sections, including migrant workers, orphans, people in old age homes, beggars, transgender and others in the state, he said.
Rao said he also supported the Centres move to effect a 30 per cent cut in the salaries of MPs.
It can be said that the country was moving on a safe path on containing the virus, with measures like lockdown having been announced. Otherwise, it would have faced a very serious situation, he said.
Rao appealed to those who attended the Tablighi jamat religious congregation in Delhi and yet to be traced to report to the authorities.
He announced a 10 per cent incentive over the gross salary to all the health staff in the state.
He deprecated those who made light of the prime ministers call to light lamps on Sunday as an expression of resolve to defeat the virus.
Asserting that there was no community transmission of the virus in the state, he accused sections of media of carrying false reports.
The number of active cases in the state cumulatively stood at 308 as on Monday night, he said.
According to a media bulletin, 30 fresh cases were reported on Monday while the COVID-19 toll remained at 11.
Rao expressed anguish over the loss of life in countries like America and said the virus was a crisis faced by the mankind.