Migrants took to walking hundreds of kilometres to their homes during the lockdown because of fake news, the government has told Parliament. It also said that the global experience with Covid-19 and its highly infectious nature led to the Centre’s decision to clamp a nationwide lockdown on March 24 at a notice of just four hours.
The information was given in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai in response to two separate questions by Opposition members.
When TMC member Mala Roy asked why migrant labourers had to walk miles to reach their homes, Rai said, “The migration of large number of migrant workers was triggered by panic created by fake news regarding duration of lockdown, and people, especially migrant labourers, were worried about adequate supply of basic necessities like food, drinking water, health services and shelter.”
Detailing various steps taken by the government, Rai said, “However, Central government was fully conscious of this, and took all necessary measures to ensure that during the period of the inevitable lockdown, no citizen should be deprived of basic amenities of food, drinking water, medical facilities etc.”
Congress MP Manish Tewari then asked why the government had to resort to a nationwide lockdown at a notice of just four hours. Rai stated in a written reply, “Soon after the outbreak of novel coronavirus on 7th January, 2020, several measures like progressive tightening of international travel, issuing advisories for members of the public, setting up quarantine facilities etc. were taken by the Central Government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as pandemic on 11th March, 2020. Experts, keeping in view the global experiences of countries which have been successful in containing the spread of COVID-19, unlike some others where many people died, have recommended that effective measures for social distancing should be taken to contain the spread of this pandemic,” he said. Rai said that from March 16 to 23, most of the states governments/UTs resorted to a partial or full lockdown based upon their assessment of the situation.
“Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease. Any mass movement of people would have spread the disease very fast amongst people in all parts of the country. Taking into consideration the above facts, the global experience and the need for consistency in the approach and implementation of various containment measures across the country, a nationwide lockdown was announced on 24th March, 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” he said.
Rai claimed that by imposing the countrywide lockdown, India successfully blunted the aggressive spread of the virus.
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