Addressing the nation, PM Modi referred to the demands made by several states to extend the 21-day lockdown which was scheduled to end on Tuesday.
Several states, including Maharashtra and Punjab, had already extended the lockdown till April 30.
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While the Prime Minister’s announcement was widely expected, many people were left wondering why the government chose to extend the lockdown till May 3 instead of April 30.
Sources said that the lockdown was extended till May 3 as May 1 is a public holiday due to Labour Day and May 2 and 3 fall on weekend. Therefore, May 4, when the lockdown is scheduled to end, will be a Monday.
The lockdown that came into effect on March 25 was to expire at midnight on April 14.
The Prime Minister said some relaxation may be allowed in some areas and the scope of coronavirus testing will be expanded significantly.
He said India may have paid a big economic price, but there can be no alternative to saving human lives.
(With inputs from agencies)