Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Thursday evening over the coronavirus outbreak and the efforts that the government has taken so far to combat it. The prime minister urged the citizens to give up the attitude that the virus cannot affect them, and advocated the efficacy of social distancing. The PM did not go into details about the measures taken by the government to combat the threat.
The two significant points Modi mentioned were the creation of an economic task force and the assurance that food items and essential commodities won't run out while the nation battles the threat of a pandemic.
Modi called citizens to observe Janata curfew (self-imposed curfew) possibly as a drill to test out the success of a lockdown in India, should the need arise.
Here are the highlights of the prime minister's speech.
- Janata Curfew will be in place on Sunday 22 March from 7 am to 9 pm. All citizens, except those working in essential services such as police, medical services etc, are compulsorily required to abide by the curfew-like restrictions. However, unlike a normal curfew, this one is unlikely to be imposed by use of security focrces or police personnel.
- Modi has requested the citizens to inform at least 10 people about the Janata Curfew. "If possible, please call at least 10 people every day and tell them about the 'Janta Curfew' as well as the measures to prevent," PM Narendra Modi said.
- Modi also urged businesses and citizens belonging to the higher income group to take care of the economic interests of the people from the lower strata of the society. The prime minister advised that citizens should not cut salary of employees or house helps who are unable to discharge their duties due to the shutdown and pandemic.
- Modi also came up with a plan to express immense gratitude and appreciation for those ensuring essential services continue uninterrupted, while brazing the risk of contracting the infection. He said that at 5 pm, all the citizens should stand in their doorways or balconies and clap, clank utensils or ring bells to show appreciation for medical professionals and all those who are associated with essential services.
- He discouraged citizens from succumbing to panic or rushing to panic buy essential commodities. Modi said that stockpiling of essential items will be counterproductive, as he assured citizens that the government will ensure regular supply of milk, vegetables and other food items and medicines.
- Modi announced the formation of a economical task force under the leadership of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The special task force, he said, would take an overview of the situation and suggest the way ahead.
Coronavirus threat becomes more serious in India
India today recorded its fourth death due to coronavirus. A 72-year-old man from Punjab, who had a history of travelling to Germany via Italy, passed away on Thursday passed away at the Banga community health centre after having severe chest pain. He was already patient was suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the country surged to 169 today. Nearly 50 cases were reported from the state of Maharashtra.
Government bans all international flights, takes steps to prevent stockpiling of commodities
Amid rising cases of COVID-19, India on Thursday banned the landing of all international commercial passenger flights from March 22 to 29 while asking the Civil Aviation ministry and Railways to suspend all concessional travel on flights and trains, except for students, patients and disabled people.
The government had issued a detailed advisory on social distancing measures as a non-pharmaceutical intervention on 16 March.
"Social distancing primarily implies avoiding/decreasing contact so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of diseases transmission. This has been found to be a useful approach to decrease the morbidity and mortality due to the disease," he said.
The Health Ministry on Thursday also advised senior citizens and children below the age of 10 years to stay indoors in view of the spread of coronavirus, even as they assured the general public that there was no community transmission of the disease in the country so far.
The ministry also said the department of pharmaceuticals and the ministry of consumer affairs have been asked to take necessary action against anyone charging exorbitant prices for masks, sanitizers and other health-related logistic materials.
The health ministry advised people to avoid non-urgent hospitalisation and minimise elective surgeries.
With respect to public transport, it is directed that metros, railways, buses and airplanes shall consider decrease in frequency of their services and alternate seating to ensure social distancing.
Effective disinfection and crowd management be ensured in places like railway stations, metro stations, bus stands, and airports, Aggarwal said.
The government also said that people should be sensitised on appropriate use of masks which should be utilised only when needed and to wash hands with soap.
The Centre has requested states to enforce work from home for private sector employees, except for those working in emergency and essential services.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Mar 20, 2020 07:26:22 IST