New Delhi: The prime minister, Narendra Modi, declared a three-week countrywide lockdown, on Tuesday, from midnight to break the chain of coronavirus transmission in India. The number of people infected with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, has climbed to 515 and has left 10 dead according to the figures available at 7pm on Tuesday.
In a televised address to the nation, Modi said this drastic measure was necessary to protect the health of Indians and the state of the country’s economy. This was his second televised address to the nation in a week. On Thursday, he urged the public to observe a day of “janata curfew” on Sunday and maintain social distancing while announcing the formation of an economic response taskforce.
In his 8pm television address to the nation, Modi made a fervent appeal to the people not to step out of their homes and keep within the “Lakshmanrekha” of their doorsteps for the next three weeks. Underlining the unprecedented threat the virus poses to the country, Modi said, “If the situation is not handled in these 21 days, the country and your family could go back by 21 years. If situation is not handled in these 21 days, several families will get devastated forever.”
The prime minister said, “To save India, to save every Indian, there will be a complete ban on people from stepping outside their houses from 12 midnight today. … Lockdown is being imposed on every state, Union territory, district, village, neighbourhood and street.”
Giving the example of how even developed nations with world-class infrastructure are struggling to battle the pandemic, Modi said, “Even countries like Italy, France and the US with world class infrastructure have found it hard to break the spread of the disease despite their relentless efforts.”
“It took 67 days for it (the new coronavirus) to infect one lakh people at first, but only 11 days to reach a total of two lakh people. This is even more alarming that it took only four days for this disease to reach three lakh people from the count of two lakh,” he added.
Using a Hindi idiom to drive home the importance of lockdown, he said, “Jaan hai toh jahan hai (the world exists only when we live).”
After his speech, he tweeted assuring the countrymen that there won’t be any shortage of essential supplies. In his tweet, he said:
My fellow citizens,— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC.
Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this.
Together, we will fight COVID-19 and create a healthier India.
The central government issued detailed guidelines about the restrictions to the states, which included certain exemptions.
Video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s complete speech declaring nationwide lockdown: