New Delhi: Making a strong pitch for maintaining social distancing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 24 midnight in view to stop fast-spreading of deadly coronavirus.
Hailing the “Janta Curfew” an exercise of self-isolation, carried out on March 22 as extremely successful, in his second televised address to the nation Mr Modi said, “The nation is going to take a very important decision. Starting midnight, the whole country will be under complete lockdown to save the country. The lockdown will continue for 21 days starting midnight tonight.”
The prime minister also announced a 15,000 crore package for COVID-19, to acquire medical equipment and protective gear, and also increase training of medical and paramedical staff, testing facilities, PPEs, ICUs, and ventilators.
“The central government has alloted Rs 15,000 Crore to develop the country's healthcare and make it efficient enough to deal with the menace of coronavirus,” he said.
He also asked the people not to venture out of their homes in a bid to save this country from this pandemic that has caused thousands of lives across the globe.
“This lockdown will be strictly imposed in every village and every lane. According to health experts, 21 days are necessary to break the cycle of coronavirus. If these 21 days are not observed as a lockdown, it will take us back 21 years,” the prime minister said.
“I urge you to forget the outside world for these 21 days. Forget every work except the work of staying at home. With this order, we have drawn a 'lakshan rekha' around your house from now onwards,” he said.
Detailing the efforts taken to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus across the world, Modi said that the precaution of social distancing is a tried and tested way of succeeding in curbing the pandemic.
“There is a misconception that social distancing is only for those who are sick. Social distancing is for everyone, even the prime minister! Some people are spreading false information, which will affect every single citizen of the country. And if all citizens are affected, the negative effects are unimaginable,” he said.
Quoting World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report, the prime minister emphasised the need of the complete nationwide lockdown and said that from taking 67 days to spread to one lakh people, the coronavirus has now started spreading faster and faster.
He also said that multiple countries around the world are suffering from the coronavirus, despite having world-class health care systems.
“People in countries like America have adhered to the quarantine guidelines laid down by the government to the last letter, which is how they are starting to overcome the disease now. Social distancing -- from the prime minister down to the last citizen in every village, has to follow self-isolation,” the prime minister said, urging citizens for the second time over quarantine.
He said that adherence to lockdown will decide impact of COVID-19 on India. “India is at the stage where our actions today, will decide that to what extent we can bring down the impact of this disaster. This is the time to strengthen our resolve again and again,” Mr Modi said.
He also said that India will emerge victorious in tackling this menace. “I am confident that India will not only successfully tackle this challenge but also emerge victorious in this time of crisis take care of yourself and take care of your near and dear ones,” the prime minister added.
He also appealed to all the state governments and Union Territories to focus on healthcare and make it highest priority.
“I have appealed to state governments to make the public healthcare the highest priority right now. I am also sure that private companies will also join in the efforts to curb the infection,” Mr Modi said.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that the number of positive coronavirus cases has risen to 519 across the country.
Kerala, with 87, pushed ahead of Maharashtra, with 86. Maharashtra government said the number of cases in the state has soared to 107.