Unveiling Phase II of the nation-wide lockdown till May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded collective sacrifice of Indians and offered seven coping tips to cope with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
In a nationally televised address on April 14, Mr Modi expressed sympathy for the people affected by the lockdown and underlined that his government is doing everything it can to protect the citizens while announcing to extend the confinement period till May 3 to prevent an escalation of the situation.
The Indian leader also offered seven tips to Indians to cope with the coronavirus disease: care for the elderly, social distancing, helping the poor, obeying Ayush advisories, being sensitive to employees, respect to frontline workers, and downloading the Aarogya Setu mobile app; and urged citizens to follow them during the lockdown.
“People have gone through hardships to save India. I know how many difficulties you faced. I respectfully bow to the people of India for their sacrifice,” Mr Modi said in a national broadcast.
The prime minister urged people to closely follow the Ayush advisories on boosting immunity against Covid-19 and help the poor and the needy facing severe financial problems due to the crisis. He said that the government is also supporting the poor through its schemes.
Mr Modi also urged the employers to be sensitive to their employees and not remove them from their jobs. He called on the citizens to respect the frontline health workers battling the virus, and finally he urged people to download the Aarogya Setu app to help monitor the situation better. The app provides location details of the users.
“The decision to extend the lockdown has been taken after carefully weighing in all relevant factors. Although India is faring much better than most developed countries, this is just the time to build on gains of the first phase of the lock-down. It’s better to err on the side of caution, rather than repent at leisure,” said Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and World magazine.
Test by Fire
Mr Modi, however, said the restrictions could be relaxed after a week in some areas where there are no OCVID-19 cases. He said the next one week is crucial as the agencies will closely monitor the areas up to the police station-level jurisdiction to ascertain the situation, and urged people to strictly follow the measures to make it successful.“Localities that pass this agni pariksha and do not allow the disease to spread, can get permission for some essential activities,” PM Modi said.
He added that the government has taken timely counter-measures even when the country did not have a single corona patient, such as screening passengers at the airports from the affected countries.
“India did not wait for the problem to escalate, rather, as soon as the problem appeared, we tried to stop it by taking swift decisions. I can’t imagine what the situation would have been if such quick decisions were not taken,” Mr Modi said. “Even before COVID-19 cases touched 100, India made it compulsory for foreign returnees to remain in 14 days isolation. We imposed 21-day lockdown when we had 550 cases,” he said.
Highlighting the medical facilities being readied for the task, he said over 220 laboratories are currently conducting COVID-19 tests. “According to world’s experience of tackling COVID-19, 1500-1600 beds are needed when cases reach 10,000. We have over 1 lakh beds in India and over 600 hospitals for treating COVID patients, and we’re expanding these facilities,” he said.
While summing up, the Prime Minister greeted the people on the occasion of various festivals being marked. “May these festivals deepen the spirit of brotherhood in India, may they also bring joy and good health. May we get more strength to collectively fight the menace of COVID-19 in times to come,” he said.
The number of positive cases in India rose to 10,363, including 8988 active cases, and 339 deaths as on April 14, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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