Narendra Modi's speech on coronavirus: PM announces total lockdown for three weeks, but essential services to remain open; key takeaways
'From 12 o'clock tonight there will be a complete lockdown across the country,' said Modi during his second address to the nation.
"From 12 o'clock tonight there will be a complete lockdown across the country," said Modi during his second address to the nation on the subject within days.
He also hailed the people for the success of 'Janata Curfew' saying that it showed how Indians can come together and fight against any challenge which comes before the country.
A lockdown in most of the country was already in place till 31 March, and Modi's announcement extended it everywhere and for two more weeks after this month.
Following are the key takeaways from his half-an-hour-long speech —
"Whatever may happen, do not step out of your homes," Modi exhorted in his speech, asking people to stay at home.
"In view of the current situation, the nationwide total lockdown will be in place for 21 days — three weeks," he said, adding, "It is a kind of curfew."
The prime minister said, "If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days (of nationwide complete lockdown), we will be pushed back 21 years. Today, India is at the stage where our actions today will decide to what extent we can bring down the impact of this disaster. This is the time to strengthen our resolve again and again."
Modi also exhorted people to "stay wherever they are in the country".
On the impact of this measure on the economy, he said, "There will certainly be an economic cost due to the lockdown. But my priority — as also that of every state government and every government functionary — is to save the lives of Indians."
He further said, "We are taking all steps to ensure a continuous supply of essential commodities."
Modi later tweeted:
My fellow citizens,
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC.
Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this.
Together, we will fight COVID-19 and create a healthier India.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
However, shortly after the speech, people across the country thronged shops in order to buy daily supplies.
Subsequently, Modi put out another tweet, saying, "By converging around shops, you are risking the spread of COVID-19 . No panic buying, please. Please stay indoors. I repeat - Centre and State Governments will ensure all essentials are available."
As part of the lockdown, all commercial and private establishments will remain shut, with the following exceptions:
1) Shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder. However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes.
2) Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs.
3) Print and electronic media.
4) Telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services. IT and IT-enabled services only (for essential services) and as fas as possible to work from home.
5) Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment through e-commerce.
6) Petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail, and storage outlets.
7) Power generation, transmission, and distribution units and services.
8) Capital and debt market services as notified by the securities and exchange board of India
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2020
References to global scenario
The prime minister also made extensive references to the experiences of other countries in handling the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"People are hearing and watching the worldwide situation arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. They are also seeing how the most empowered nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic. It's not that these nations are not making efforts or lack resources, but the coronavirus is spreading so rapidly that despite all their efforts, the challenge is increasing," Modi said.
"The result of a two-month study of these countries and what the experts are saying is that social distancing is the only option to combat the coronavirus . That is to remain apart from each other and stay confined to your homes. There is no other way to remain safe from coronavirus . If we have to stop the spread of coronavirus , we have to break the cycle of infection," he added.
Even countries like Italy, France, and the US with world-class infrastructure have found it hard to break the spread of the disease despite their relentless efforts, he said, emphasising the gravity of the situation.
"It took 67 days for it (COVID-19) to infect one lakh people, at first, but only 11 days to reach a total of two lakh people. This is even more alarming that the disease took only 4 days to reach three lakh people from the count of two lakh. If we want to restrict the spread of the coronavirus , we will have to break its chain of infection," the prime minister said.
'Social distancing is for all, including PM'
The prime minister further said that some people are under the misconception that social distancing is only for the patients.
"This is not right. Social distancing is for every citizen, every family and for every member of the family, and for the prime minister as well," he said.
Modi also said, "You have to remember that a coronavirus infected person initially appears to be normal and doesn't show symptoms. So, maintain precautions and stay at home."
Modi also asked people to remember the hard work being put in by medical personnel, the media, and the police among others during the ongoing crisis.
He noted that the lockdown has brought a very difficult time for the poor and added that the Centre along with states, individuals from civil societies and institutions are constantly striving to reduce their problems of the poor.
The Centre has put in place a provision of Rs 15,000 crore for treating coronavirus patients and strengthening medical infrastructure in the country.
"I am confident that every Indian will not only successfully fight this difficult situation but also emerge victorious," he said.
With inputs from agencies
The Union health minister also accused the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra govt of trying to cover its 'failures' by spreading panic on vaccines
The minister urged the Centre to give priority to Maharashtra since the coronavirus cases were more in the state and the overall toll was over 50,000
Johnson will instead speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for the future UK-India partnership, with their physical meeting expected later in the year