India under 21-day lockdown as COVID-19 claims 10 lives

The prime minister said everyone should adhere to the guidelines and maintain social distancing

Schools and educational institutions will remain closed but they can continue with and promote online learning. Photo: PTI (File)

India will be locked down for 21 days, starting midnight Tuesday (March 24), Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said. In his second televised address to the nation after the COVID-19 outbreak, the prime minister said this was the only way to contain the virulent spread of the pandemic.

Urging all people to draw for themselves a lakshman rekha (Rubicon), he said the disease was bringing down countries and economies and the complete extend of damage had not been assessed yet. So far, 10 people have died due to coronavirus and 519 cases have been reported in the country.

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The prime minister lauded the people for the successful observance of the ‘janata curfew’ that he had announced. He said the callous acts of some people, their insensitivities and their wrong thinking could imperil the entire nation.

Reiterating the need for social distancing, he said everyone should adhere to the guidelines and the prime minister and other leaders were no exception.

Modi said the countries with the best technologies and infrastructure were hit. He said the spread was too fast and the world was engulfed in the pangs of the pandemic.

“If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days (of nationwide complete lockdown), we will be pushed back 21 years,” said the prime minister. “You have to remember that a Coronavirus infected person initially appears to be normal and doesn’t show symptoms. So maintain precautions and stay at home,” he added.

The prime minister said ₹15,000 crore has been allotted for coronavirus testing facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE), ICUs, ventilators and for training medical workers.

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All essential services will continue to be functional during the lockdown. Modi said his government is taking all steps to ensure continuous supply of essential commodities.

“While staying at home, remember and pray for people who are working while putting their lives at risk. Remember the doctors, nurses, paramedics and pathologists who are working day and night to save lives; the hospital administration, ambulance drivers, and ward boys serving others in these tough times,” he said.

“Pray for people who are working to sanitise your society and neigbourhoods, roads and public places to ensure complete eradication of the virus. You must also think about the media persons who are working 24 hours by staying on roads and going to hospitals, to give you correct info,” said Modi.

He said the 21 days’ lockdown is a long time, but “it is important for you and your family’s safety”. “I believe that every Indian will not only successfully tackle this challenge but also emerge victorious in this time of crisis,” said the prime minister.

(With inputs from agencies)

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