Coronavirus: PM to address nation at 8pm today

Grant Boone
March 25, 2020

"To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family ... every street, every neighborhood is being put under lockdown", he added in the strictest stay-at-home order yet in the world's fight against the deadly bug.

The stringent measure starting at midnight local time follows the 14-hour "public curfew" Sunday observed by residents on his request, mostly on voluntary basis.

"Some people are under the misconception that social distancing is only for those infected with coronavirus. but they should understand that this for everyone because it is important to break the cycle", said PM Modi in his address to the nation.

India's tally of 536 cases and 10 deaths is dwarfed by China, Italy and Spain, but Mr Modi and health experts have warned that the nation of 1.3 billion people faces a tidal wave of infections if harsh steps are not taken. Television reports showed long lines formed outside stores.

Economists had also hoped Modi would announce some welfare and relief measures for the poor - a package has reportedly been in the works for a week now - but other than expressing his concern for their plight the prime minister's speech contained no concrete measures. People headed out in cars or on motorbikes soon after the televised address ended.

Hospitality services and educational institutions will remain suspended during the period.

Dubai World Cup meeting canceled due to coronavirus
It will take time, but hopefully, all around the world, people get better. We've just got to go on and try to get the world fixed".

India, the second most populous country in the world, began enforcing its lockdown at midnight local time (7:30 pm United Kingdom time).

India has already severed global flight links and will stop domestic air services at midnight in a bid to halt the spread. Worldwide flights into India were banned Sunday.

Acknowledging that "this crisis has certainly brought on a very hard time for the poor", he said the central and state governments "are constantly striving to ensure that citizen do not face much inconvenience in their daily life". Medical workers will also be exempt from the stay-at-home order.

But Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said there is no need for "indiscriminate testing". However, an exception has been made in case of funerals, where a congregation of not more than 20 persons will be permitted. The Prime Minister said, "Forget going out of the house for the next 21 days".

In another tweet, Modi said, "By converging around shops, you are risking the spread of COVID-19". While the guidelines have been issued and it clearly states how the essential services will be operational, people have resorted to panic buying and videos and photos of the same have been doing the rounds on social media as well. "In view of the current situation, the lockdown shall be enforced for 21 days, which means the next 21 days are crucial for us", Modi continued.

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