Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to extend the lockdown for another 19 days could be tied to a 14th century Venetian practice, if some sources are to be believed.

While an extension was widely expected, most had assumed the last day of the new phase would be April 30, the date many chief ministers had extended the lockdown to.

The government, however, extended the lockdown date till May 3rd, bringing the total number of days to 40.

India’s case count and rising death toll apart, Modi’s lockdown math could be linked to the word ‘quarantine’ itself. Quarantine originates from the Italian word ‘quarantena’ which means 40 days.

The first instance of a quarantine can be traced back to almost 700 years ago, when physicians and health officials fighting a devastating outbreak of bubonic plague in medieval Italy implemented some of the world’s first anti-contagion measures.

Starting in 1348, soon after the plague arrived in cities like Venice and Milan, city officials made it mandatory for all incoming ships and trade caravans to be quarantined for forty days in order to screen for infection.

Cut to 2020, and Modi may have used the same concept to try and completely curb the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus, if one goes by sources with knowledge of the matter.

Phase 1 of the lockdown saw stringent restrictions in movements and a complete halt to the economy. Phase 2, however, will likely see the economy slowly getting back to business following the lifting/easing of some of the curbs.

Modi, in his address yesterday, outlined the plan for the next 19 days, saying states will be continuously monitored, with rules getting even more strict over the next week. On April 20th, a report card of sorts will decide how effective the areas have been in their Covid fight.

Places seen to be relatively virus-free would be allowed to resume activities before the others.

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