This essentially extended the lockdown from most states and Union Territories to the entire country and provided a more definite timeline. “Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection,” he said.
All other lockdown conditions, such as the availability of essential commodities, remain the same, the government clarified.
In his second address to the nation on the Covid-19 outbreak, Modi told people to stay inside their homes for 21 days, warning that if they didn’t do so the country would be set back 21 years and families would be destroyed. His last address was on the outbreak was on March 19.
“This is like a curfew, and far stricter than the ‘Janata Curfew’ (on March 22),” the PM said. “Seeing the present conditions, this lockdown will be for 21 days. This is to save India, save each citizen and save your family. Do not step outside your house. For 21 days, forget what is stepping outside. There is a Lakshman Rekha on your doorstep. Even one step outside your house will bring the coronavirus inside your house.”
Modi later issued an appeal to the public to desist from panic buying as people began crowding markets to stock up before the midnight deadline. The government also issued a notification that said all essential services will remain open, as before, and all essential commodities and medicines would be available. Banks, ATMs, petrol pumps, hospitals and grocery shops will continue to function. However, all transport services — air, rail and roadways — will remain suspended until April 14.
India Inc Welcomes Move
All government and private offices will remain closed, with the exception of those involved in essential services.
Corporate India welcomed the lockdown. “These are tough decisions, but they need to be taken to ensure that we can fight Covid-19,” Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran told ET NOW.
Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal said, “The Prime Minister has made the right decision... We are in complete solidarity with the PM and commit ourselves to provide all necessary support and services that the government may require.”
The PM’s move extended a lockdown that had been imposed until March 31 by most states to April 14 and across the entire nation as India’s Covid-19 infection count rose to 536 on Tuesday from 471 the day before, while the death count rose to10 from nine. Health ministry figures showed 39 of these patients have been cured and discharged. Government officials described this as a positive development.
NEED FOR UNIFORMITY
The latest move came as the Centre felt the need for uniformity across all states and invoked powers under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, to enforce the countrywide lockdown.
Positive cases in Kerala and Maharashtra, whichlead in the number of infections, roseto 95 and 89, respectively.
With infection numbers rising, there was a need to enhance surveillance and contact-tracing efforts in order to break the chain of transmission, Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba wrote to all states on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister said the lockdown will come at an “economic cost”, but his top priority was to save lives. “I fold my hands to say — please stay where you are,” the PM said. “All leading expertssay21days isthe minimum we require to break the coronavirus transmission cycle. If we are not able to handle these 21 days, the country and your family will go back 21years and many families will be destroyed. I am saying this not as the Prime Minister but as your family member.”
The PM said: “Jaan hai to jahan hai.”
Modi conceded that these are tough times for the poor and said 21 days was a long time, but the coronavirus “spreads like fire”. He cited WHO data on the accelerating pace of the outbreak — it took 67 days to reach 100,000 infections, and another 11days to reach 200,000, but just four days to hit 300,000, he said.
He referred to the experience of several countries and said even developed nations with the best medical infrastructure had not been able to slow down the spread. He said the only “ray of hope” was the example of some that had managed to slow its spread by strictly implementing a lockdown.
“In all these countries, an analysis of the past two monthsshowsthatthecoronaviruscan be fought effectively only one way — by social distancing and staying inside your house,” he said. “There is no other solution or way. If we do not enforce this lockdown and continue to be negligent, the country will have to pay a very big price — it is not even possible to estimate what that price may be.”
The PM warned social distancing was a must for all, even for those without symptoms.
“Some are under the misconception that social distancing is only for the ill or a patient,” he said. “Experts say that if today any person has coronavirus, then his symptoms can emerge after many days. So he or she can unknowingly infect many others who come in contact with him.”
The PM spoke of the Rs 15,000 crore provision made for coronavirus testing facilities, personal protective equipment, beds, ventilators and other infrastructure.
“I have asked states that first priority should be health care. I am satisfied that our private sector is also standing with country — both private hospitals and labs,” he said. “Also, don’t listen to rumours as they spread fast. Save yourself from superstition and do not take any medicine without a doctor’s advice. Your mistake can put your life in more danger.”
LOCKDOWN STRICTLY IMPLEMENTED
Lockdown measures already in force across the country began to be strictly implemented on Tuesday, with about 350 cases registered in Uttar Pradesh so far, 232 in Punjab and 112 in Mumbai against violators. Delhi Police also cleared the 100-day-old Shaheen Bagh protest site in Delhi after strict instructionstoenforce the lockdown were issued.
The PM said the central and state governments along with institutions and individuals are striving to reduce the problems of the poor.
Reasons behind central government's decision on a nationwide lockdown
1. The COVID-19 epidemic has affected many countries and the World Health Organisation has declared it ‘Pandemic’.
2. Government of India (GOI) has been taking several proactive preventive and mitigating measures starting with progressive tightening of international travel, issue of advisories for the members of the public, setting up quarantine facilities, contact tracing of persons infected by the virus and various social distancing measures. Several advisories have been issued to States and Union Territories (UTs) for taking necessary measures to contain the spread of this virus. Government have temporarily suspended metro and rail services as well as domestic air traffic.
3. The situation has been continuously reviewed at the level of Hon’ble Prime Minister. The Hon’ble Prime Minister has addressed the Nation on the need for preventive measures and has also held meeting with all the Chief Ministers through video conference.
4. Experts, keeping in view the global experiences of countries which have been successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 unlike some others where thousands of people died, have recommended that effective measures for social distancing should be taken to contain the spread of this pandemic.