PM fires first salvo in war against Coronavirus
New Delhi: In his address to the nation on novel Coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens to exercise restraint and follow a 'Janata Curfew' on March 22 from 7 am to 9 pm. "On March 22, from 7 am to 9 pm, all countrymen have to follow 'Janata Curfew'. Restrain is compulsory to protect ourselves and remain healthy. I request that for the coming weeks people should go out of their homes only if essential," Modi said. The Prime Minister also stressed on actively engaging with individuals, local communities and organisations to check COVID-19. India reported its fourth Coronavirus-linked death on Thursday from Punjab as the number of cases spiked to 173.
In a nearly 30-minute national broadcast, he said: "Even World War I and II did not affect as many countries as Coronavirus has done," and asked people to avoid this mindset that the disease will not affect India much when it has hit hard many developed countries.
Amid incidents of people resorting to hoarding food items in panic, Modi said "panic-buying" must be avoided and essential things, including medicines, should not be hoarded, adding his government is working to ensure their supply.
Pitching for "social distancing", he called for full cooperation of people on March 22 asserting that it will be a litmus test to show how much India is ready to take on the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This experience will serve the nation well, he added.
Lauding the hard work of medical professionals, sanitation staff, airline crews, delivery persons and media personnel among others, Modi asked people to express gratitude to them by giving them a five-minute standing ovation at 5 pm on Sunday by clapping hands, beating plates or ringing out bells. The Prime Minister also announced the setting up of a 'COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force' to decide on relief package for sectors hit by the Coronavirus outbreak.
The task force, to be headed by Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, will look into measures to limit economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said in his address to the nation.
A cure or vaccine for Coronavirus has not been found yet, Modi said, adding that a few countries have controlled the situation by taking quick decisions and by isolating more and more people.
It would be wrong to believe that the pandemic will not impact India much, he said. "As far as possible, try and do all your work, whether related to business or job, from home. Senior citizens, those above 60-65 years of age, should not leave their homes over the next few weeks," Modi said.
He asked people to follow the directives of central and state governments to combat Coronavirus.