Coronavirus: India Under Unprecedented 21-Day Lockdown

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government was making a provision of INR 15,000 crore for measures to stop the spread of the virus and added that the government was working to ensure that the supply of essentials remain uninterrupted.
Coronavirus: India Under Unprecedented 21-Day Lockdown
Image credit: BJP Twitter

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Amping up the effort to fight the onset of the coronavirus disease outbreak, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown of the country for 21 days starting midnight on March 24. The lockdown is effective till April 14. This comes merely two days after what was deemed a successful self-imposed curfew.

While there was already a lockdown in more than 500 districts earlier, this one appears to be more stringent. Trains, Metro rail services, inter-state buses and domestic flights were non-operational till March 31 and will now be till the end of the said lockdown.

PM Modi said the government was making a provision of INR 15,000 crore for measures to stop the spread of the virus which would include spending on testing, personal protection equipment, ventilators, intensive care unit beds as well as training of medical and paramedical staff.

He also directed state governments to only concentrate on medical infrastructure at this point of time. Private labs and hospitals have been coming forward to help, he said.

‘As Good As A Curfew’

PM Modi addressed rumors and misinformation that has been going around, asking people not to believe anything unverified. He also emphasized that social distance was not only for patients, and every single citizen needed to observe the same. To highlight the gravity of the situation, he added that even the PM was himself prone to catching the virus.

Stating that the lockdown was as good as a curfew, the Prime Minister said no one should step out of the house at all.

Citing studies from other countries such as Iran and Italy where the disease has already resulted in thousands of deaths, he said 3 weeks or 21 days were necessary to break the chain. “We will go back 21 years if we don’t observe the 21-day lockdown,” he said.

The World Health Organization’s Director-General on Monday said the pandemic was accelerating. “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing.

In India, the confirmed cases have crossed 500 with casualties at ten.

Essentials To Be Taken Care Of

PM Modi acknowledged that there is an economic cost to this but said at this point, it was more important to save each and every citizen’s life.

To quell fears, he added that the government was working to make sure that all essential supplies will be taken care of.

According to a separate notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs, while all government offices will remain closed, those working in departments such as police, electricity, water and essential staff in municipal bodies will be allowed to work as much as possible. Hospitals and all medical establishments will continue to remain functional.

Apart from that, all commercial and private establishments excluding the likes of grocery shops, banks, ATMs, and e-commerce delivery services, will remain closed during the period. Others providing essentials such as petrol pumps, gas outlets, power distribution units, telecommunications warehousing services and capital market services have also been exempt.

PM also addressed that the poor, ones who are hardest hit at this time, will get necessary help from the Centre, states and the civil society who are all working together to fight this pandemic.

“I am sure that India will overcome and conquer this pandemic,” he concluded.

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