Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation on 19 March, requested citizens to follow certain measures to ensure the containment of the virus. He emphasised the importance of not taking the pandemic lightly and the need to be aware and proactive. He said that the patience and resolve of all Indians are vital in the fight against the global pandemic.

Mr Modi urged citizens to follow the mantra “When we are healthy, the world is healthy”. He stressed on the importance of following self-imposed norms like ‘social distancing’. Requesting citizens to patiently abide by the norm, he urged the need to isolate oneself and come out of the house only if imperative, while trying to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel. He also urged senior citizens above the age of 60 to not come out of their homes for the next few weeks. Highlighting the stress on hospitals, he urged everyone to avoid routine check-ups during this time and to extend the date of surgeries scheduled, wherever feasible. He urged people not to resort to panic buying and assured them there will not be any shortage of essential items like food, milk, and medicines. He also asked to not to fall prey to misinformation.

The Prime Minister urged citizens to follow the concept of ‘Janta Curfew’ on 22 March from 7 a.m to 9 p.m wherein no one, apart from those involved in essential services, will venture out of their homes. He said the success of such a people’s movement and the experiences gained from it will prepare us for the challenges ahead. Urging the state governments to take the lead, he asked all youth organisations, including the NCC and NSS, and civil societies to generate awareness among people about the ‘Janta Curfew’. He urged everyone to try to inform at least 10 other people over the phone about this self-imposed curfew.

Mr Modi also said that on 22 March at 5 p.m all citizens should stand in their balconies and at the doors of their houses and clap or ring bells for five minutes as a show of appreciation and pay respect to the brave people who are in the forefront fighting the COVID-19 pandemic like medical staff, police, government servants, airline staff, media persons, bus/train/auto operators, and those involved in providing home delivery. He urged the local government across the country to indicate the time by blaring out a siren at 5 p.m.

The Prime Minister also announced the creation of ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’, led by the Union finance minister, to deal with the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The task force will consult stakeholders, take feedback, on the basis of which decisions will be taken to meet the challenges. Mr Modi urged the business community and higher-income groups to look after the economic needs of those from lower-income groups who work for them and urged them not to deduct their salary on days they are unable to work. During the time of such a global pandemic, it is important to ensure that “humanity wins and India wins”, Mr Modi said.

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