India extended the lockdown for two more weeks after May 4 on Friday to fight the coronavirus pandemic, while easing some restrictions.

Due to “significant progress regarding the situation related to COVID-19”, the areas where few or no cases are identified may benefit from “considerable relaxation,” said the Interior Ministry in a statement.

The containment imposed on March 25 plunged millions of workers in India’s vast informal sector into distress and dealt a severe blow to Asia’s third-largest economy.

But the strict restrictions are supposed to have kept cases of contamination with the new coronavirus at a relatively low level in the second-most populous country in the world: populated with 1.3 billion inhabitants, India listed Friday 35,365 cases for 1152 dead.

But experts say the country, some of whose cities are the most saturated in the world, does not do enough screening. And warn that India’s precarious healthcare system may be unable to cope if the virus overwhelmingly resists the restrictions.

The government has now divided the country into red zones, where there is “a significant risk of spreading the infection,” green zones, where no case has been confirmed for 21 days, and orange, all the others.

The red and orange areas continue to be subject to contact tracing, door-to-door surveillance, and a travel ban, except for medical emergencies or the provision of essential goods and services.


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