Updated: March 20, 2020 8:07:10 am
PM Narendra Modi coronavirus address: Stating that the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the entire human race, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday urged India to not step out of their homes for a few weeks till the scourge subsides and announced a ‘Janta Curfew’ for the whole country on Sunday.
“This Sunday, that is on 22 March, all citizens must follow this curfew from 7 am until 9 pm. During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes, nor get onto the streets and refrain from roaming about in our societies or areas. Only those associated with emergency and essential services may leave their homes,” PM Modi in his address to the nation that lasted nearly 30 minutes.
“Today, large and developed countries are seeing the widespread impact of the corona pandemic. It will be wrong to believe that this will not have any effect on India,” PM Modi continued. “Even World War I and II did not affect as many countries as coronavirus has done.”
Resolve and patience, the Prime Minister said, are key in combating coronavirus. “People need to resolve that they will follow the advice of central and state governments,” he said.
Keeping in mind economic challenges arising out of coronavirus, PM Modi also said the government has decided to form a “COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force” that will be in touch with stakeholders and take future decisions.
The Prime Minister’s address to the nation comes as the total number of cases has swelled to 173, including 19 who have recovered and four deaths.
Emphasising on the importance of social distancing, PM Modi said the method is effective in reducing the impact of coronavirus. “I request all people in the country to get out of their houses only when it is extremely necessary, try and do all work from home,” he said.
The Prime Minister also appealed to people to avoid panic buying and urged them to not hoard essential items like food and medicine. He also requested people to avoid going to hospitals for routine check-up to ease pressure on medical staff. He also urged people to not cut the wages of those working in homes, support staff and drivers, gardeners.
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.
Earlier, PM Modi had told his party MPs not to panic but visit their respective constituencies on weekends to create awareness about the pandemic as well as the steps being taken to check it. Earlier this week, he had also taken to Twitter to interact with people on their experiences and preventive measures being taken on coronavirus while launching a “COVID-19 Solution Challenge” to find a “technology-driven” remedy for the pandemic. The winner will get Rs 1 lakh as prize money.
PM Modi also held a SAARC leaders summit via video-conference to discuss the way forward to fight the coronavirus pandemic and proposed the creation of a COVID-19 emergency fund, for which it committed “an initial offer of US$ 10 million”.
“It is clear that we have to work together. We can respond best by coming together not growing apart, collaboration, not confusion, preparation not panic,” said Modi.
So far, the Centre has decided to suspend all visas, barring select categories, till April 15, effectively closing its borders for a month. The Centre also advised all states and Union territories to invoke provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which will enable them to enforce advisories as and when needed.
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