New Delhi: The prime minister, Narendra Modi, seeking to assure anxious Indians on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, urged his fellow countrymen, on Thursday, to maintain social distancing and stay indoors. He also asked the people to observe a day of “janata curfew”, which roughly translates to voluntary public curfew, on Sunday from 9am to 7pm to stop the spread of the virus that originated from China’s Wuhan and spread to all the continents of the world except Antarctica.
In a televised address to the nation, Modi said the world is going through a “grave situation worse than any world war” although India was still at Stage 2 of the transmission phase of the disease. [This stage involves only person to person transmission. Stage 3 is community transmission, when the source of infection is not known for majority of the infected population and new positive cases can no longer be traced to diagnosed cases.]
While announcing the “janata curfew”, Modi said, “… No one will go out of their houses. It will also prepare us for the forthcoming days.” He said it would act as symbol of the citizens’ “self-control” and the experience will “prepare the country for future challenges”.
The prime minister also urged the state governments and other organizations to ensure that people are made aware of the “janata curfew”
Modi also said the state administrations will ring a siren that will signal people to come out of their doors and windows to express gratitude to those who have been working in the frontlines during this health crisis by clapping or ringing bells for five minutes. He said, “For the last two months, lakhs of people at airports, hospitals, cleaning staff, media and transport sector have been putting themselves at risk for others. … India is grateful to them … citizens should express their gratitude to these people on Sunday.”
Modi also appealed to people not to overwhelm hospitals during this crisis. During his address, he said, “I appeal to citizens not to go to hospitals for routine check-ups unless it is urgent. Instead, get advice over the phone from your family doctors.”
The prime minister also announced the formation of an economic response taskforce to tackle the economic fallout in the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. He warned of the outbreak’s wide economic impact and stressed on the need for the country to be prepared.
Modi said, “This global pandemic is also going to have a broad impact on the economy. Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising from the coronavirus, the government has decided to set up a COVID-19 economic response taskforce under the leadership of the finance minister (Nirmala Sitharaman). This taskforce will take decisions in the near future, based on regular interactions and feedback from all stakeholders, and analysis of all situations. It will also ensure that all steps taken to reduce the economic difficulties are effectively implemented.”
The prime minister assured the country that it has enough foodgrain and other essential supplies. He said, “Be it milk, eatables, medicines, essential things – we have taken all steps to avoid any shortage. These supplies will never be stopped, so please do not hoard them.”
PM Narendra Modi’s full speech on coronavirus pandemic and “janta curfew”: