New Delhi: The Punjab government on Friday said it was extending the lockdown in the state till April 30 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, becoming the second state to do so after Odisha.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier in the day said the ongoing lockdown should continue, while noting that predictions by health experts about the spread of the pandemic are "horrendous and frightening".
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, just a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet chief ministers of all states to decide on extension of the nationwide lockdown.
India has registered more than 6500 coronavirus cases till Friday, despite a strict three-week clampdown to control the outbreak. Punjab has reported 132 cases.
Addressing a press conference through video conference, Singh said Punjab will allow district-wise relief from lockdown to farmers to allow them for harvesting of Rabi crop.
He said the state was expecting a bumper crop of 185 lakh tonnes of wheat and is making arrangements for harvest of the crop.
He said predictions by health experts about the spread of the pandemic are "horrendous and frightening".
"Prediction by experts about spread of the virus are horrendous and frightening," he said, adding that the government is preparing itself and gearing up for such a situation.
Quoting a PGIMER study, he said the virus is likely to touch its peak by mid-september and may likely to affect 58 per cent of India's population and 87 per cent of Punjab's and other states' population.
"....COVID19 epidemic in India is estimated to reach its peak in mid-September 2020 at a point where 58 per cent of population has been infected," he said quoting the projections made by the Department of Community Medicine in PGIMER in Chandigarh.
Quoting another figure from the projections by PGI, he said the virus can infect up to 87 per cent of population of Punjab and other states.
He said, "The only good thing about coronavirus is that the drugs supply line has been broken".
To a question, the Punjab chief minister admitted that there has been some community transmission of the virus in Punjab as there are 27 positive cases from among the Tablighi Jamat congregation attendees in Nizamuddin in Delhi.