Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation, calls for Janta Curfew on Sunday

Updated: 19 March, 2020 23:22 IST | mid-day online correspondent | New Delhi

In an emotional appeal, the prime minister urged countrymen to stay calm, saying that the world is going through a serious crisis at this time

Picture/Narendra Modi-Twitter
Picture/Narendra Modi-Twitter

New Delhi: Amid the coronavirus scare, prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on television appealing countrymen to stay indoors to contain the spread of the pandemic and step out only if required. In a series of announcements, the prime minister said that the world is going through a difficult time and it is necessary to take the situations caused by the pandemic seriously.

"In big and developed countries, we are seeing the widespread impact of the coronavirus epidemic. So, it is wrong to believe that it will not have any effect on India. Hence, to combat this global epidemic, two major things are required: resolve and restraint," said Modi in the televised address to the nation.

Prime Minister Modi asked citizens to give him their time for the next few weeks. "You have never disappointed me whenever I have asked for something. It is from all your blessings that we are moving towards our set goals. Today, I need the coming few weeks from all. Neither there has been no definite cure to deal coronavirus, nor is there a vaccine. In such a situation, it is natural for us to be anxious."

Urging senior citizens to stay indoors, Modi said, "Social distancing is extremely important and effective in reducing the impact of coronavirus. All senior citizens in our family should not get out of houses. I request all people in the country to get out of the house only when it is extremely necessary, try and do all work from home."

'Janta Curfew on March 22'

Asking the people to take a pledge to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the pandemic, Modi announced a voluntary curfew called 'Janta Curfew',  in which he urges people to stay indoors from 7 am to 9 pm. "If possible, please call at least 10 people every day and tell them about the 'Janta curfew' as well as the measures to prevent coronavirus," he said.

Saying that no definite solution has been found and no vaccine has been developed yet to deal with the deadly virus, Modi said that the world is going through a serious crisis at this time. “Generally, whenever a natural crisis comes, it is limited to a few countries or states. But this time this crisis is such, which has put the entire human race in crisis all over the world," the prime minister said.

"In these two months, 130 crore citizens of India have fought the coronavirus epidemic firmly and took necessary precautions. The belief that we are not prone to the global coronavirus pandemic is not right. Hence, it is important that every Indian should be alert," he added.

'COVID-19 Task Force'

The prime minister also announced the formation of a COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force led by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to deal with the situation arising out of novel coronavirus outbreak. Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic, the government has decided to constitute COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force led by the Finance Minister. This task force will also ensure that all steps are taken to reduce the economic difficulties and execute them effectively," Modi said in the televised address, adding that the task force will remain in regular touch with all stakeholders, take their feedback and make decisions accordingly.

He  also advised people to not create panic buying essential commodities."I appeal to all not to go into panic buying to store essential commodities. Steps are being taken to ensure that there is no scarcity of essential commodities," he said.

'Avoid visiting hospitals for routine check-ups'

The Prime Minister requested the citizens to avoid visiting hospitals for routine check-ups. "If you have an appointment for any non-essential surgery, please postpone for one month. We should keep in mind that pressure should not come on hospitals," he said. He also requested the countrymen to postpone elective surgeries by a month, avoid routine check-ups to ease pressure on health services.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released a statement on Wednesday announcing the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in India at 167, including 25 foreigners. Four deaths (one each) were reported in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra. 

With inputs from agencies

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First Published: 19 March, 2020 21:06 IST

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