The Odisha government, taking a major step towards containing the novel Coronavirus, on Wednesday announced the extension of the 21-day lockdown till April 30 and also urged the Centre to follow suit.

With the move, Odisha has become the first state in India to take such an initiative.

Announcing the same, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in a video message, thanked the people of the state for their cooperation and said he knew it “involves a lot of sacrifice, hardship and uncertainty but this is the only way to face this crisis”.

Asserting that “life will not be the same ever,” the chief minister asked the people to understand the reality and face it boldly together.

“Coronavirus is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century. Life will not be the same ever. All of us must understand this and face it boldly together. With our sacrifice and with the blessing of Lord Jagannath, this too shall pass,” he said.

Further citing the example of the US, which is grappling with the pandemic, the CM said at this crucial juncture, “one has to decide between protecting lives of people and economic activity”.

As per the state government order, educational institutions will remain closed till June 17.

“Food security of people is of atmost importance. Agriculture, animal husbandry, MGNREGA related activities to be facilitated following social distancing norms,” the government said.

“As earlier, free movement of goods transport will be allowed,” it added.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also urged the Centre to not start train and air services till April 30.

Odisha has reported 42 confirmed cases of novel Coronavirus and one death.

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the first all-party meet since the declaration of the shutdown, had hinted that the lockdown could be extended owing to the increasing cases of COVID-19.

Speaking with the opposition leaders, he had reportedly stated that by all accounts, it will not be possible to end the lockdown on April 14.

According to reports, PM Modi said life will not be the same again after COVID-19 and that there would be “pre-corona and post-corona”.

He further told the political leaders that “massive behavioural, social and personal changes will have to take place.”

The situation in the country is akin to a ‘social emergency’, the PM said, which has necessitated tough decisions and “we must continue to remain vigilant”. He added that states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

However, a proper answer to the burning question is most likely to be delivered only after April 11 when the Prime Minister will hold a second meeting with the chief ministers.

The current shutdown is slated to end on April 14.

While Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba had a week ago denied that there were any plans to extend the lockdown, several states have written to the Centre saying that the restrictions must continue.

On Monday, at a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the people must be prepared for a long haul. He had urged the ministers to come up with a ‘graded plan’.