A day after he announced a countrywide lockdown for 21 days as health authorities battle to check transmission of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday reiterated the importance of social distancing and said strict action will be taken against those discriminating against doctors, medical staff and others who are “risking their lives to keep ours safe”.
In an online interaction with residents of Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, Modi compared the “war” against the coronavirus to the Mahabharat. “The Mahabharat war was won in 18 days. Today, the war against corona which is being fought by the entire country will take 21 days. It is our effort that we should win this in 21 days. During the war in Mahabharat, Bhagwan Shri Krishna was the saviour.
Today on the shoulders of 130 crore saviours, we have to win this fight against corona.”
He urged people to refrain from self-medication, and to only trust the word of doctors. “We have a habit of taking medicines for fevers and colds without consulting our doctors… We have to be aware that till now there is no medicine or vaccine against corona that has been made anywhere in the world… our scientists, in our country and in the world, are working fast. So if someone suggests a medicine, please speak to your doctor first. You must have seen that people are putting their lives in danger by medicating themselves.”
“The biggest thing that has come out from this virus is that it does not discriminate against anyone. It attacks developed countries and poor households as well… If people socially distances themselves, then the chance that the virus will affect them is much lower. It is important that over one lakh corona-affected people across the world have also recovered,” he said.
Modi announced the creation of a Corona Helpdesk, created in collaboration with WhatsApp with the number 9013151515. “You can WhatsApp this number and be connected with it. If you write Namaste on this number, you will be connected.”
To a question about doctors, nurses and other staff being discriminated against, Modi said, “Your pain is correct, and I have the same pain too. Yesterday I spoke to nurses, doctors, and lab technicians on these issues at length.” He said that the country had set an example not only through Sunday’s Janata Curfew, but also via the five-minute tribute at 5 pm.
“Those people that conducted rescue operations in Wuhan, I wrote a letter. That was not just any other letter, but made me emotional. I shared the photographs of the all-women Air India crew that rescued people in Italy. From some places, I have received information of these actions that bring pain to the heart. I appeal to citizens that if you see any such act, if you see people that are in the business of saving us, doctors, nurses, medical staff, sanitation staff, if bad behaviour happens with them, go to the people of your area and tell them what they are doing is wrong. You cannot do this. Whoever is serving us, we must help them.”
“There may be stray incidents… I have asked the Home Department and DGPs of the states to act very strictly. If someone acts like this against doctors, nurses etc, then the costs for them will be very high. Right now, doctors and nurses, dressed in white in hospitals, are our gods. They are risking their lives to save ours,” he said.
Responding to a question on the problems being faced by the poor because of the lockdown, Modi asked people to pledge to help nine families, if they have the resources. “A second powerful way to fight the coronavirus is Karuna. We can take one step to beat corona by showing compassion towards the poor and the needy. If we, for the next 21 days, for those who have the ability to do this, as Navratras have started, everyday pledge to help 9 families. I believe that if we do this, then what else can be a bigger prayer to our mother. This will be a true and powerful Navratra. We also have to care for the animals around us. Because of the lockdown, a crisis has come for animals as well,” he said.
“It is possible that in some places, there are problems. That someone has been careless. But to concentrate only on these problems, to search for them, to focus only on them, to discourage, at a point like this, does not benefit. I will request that we understand that to spread negativity, there might be a hundred reasons, but life only goes on from hope and confidence. However much we support the law and the administration, the results will be that much better…
The doctors, the officials, the police, the media, have they come from outside? They are our people. If such a heavy burden has come on them, may be we should share it too. We must increase their resolve.”
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