Addressing the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked extensively about the challenges caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed that “resolve” and “restraint” were the two most important things to be followed. Maintaining that there was no medicine for this virus, he urged the people to abide by the Centre and state government’s directives on social distancing, which he termed as extremely necessary in this phase. The PM requested the citizens to avoid going out and isolate themselves unless it is absolutely essential barring for professionals such as doctors, government officials, journalists etc. Moreover, he appealed that senior citizens should stay at home.
Thereafter, he announced that Janta Curfew - a curfew for the people and of the people would be observed on Sunday, March 22. On this day, all citizens except those providing essential services should not step out of the house from 7 am to 9 pm. Furthermore, PM Modi called upon the people to show gratitude to those serving the nation such as doctors, etc. by clapping from their windows and balconies at 5 pm on March 22. Thereafter, he advised the people to avoid crowding hospitals for routine check-ups and surgeries, which can be postponed. Highlighting that the business community and high-income class should take care of the economic interests of the less privileged, he also cautioned the people against the hoarding of essential items. Additionally, the PM asked the citizens to stay away from rumours and observed that the entire country had to face this crisis with firm determination. Concluding his remarks, he exuded confidence that India would emerge victorious in the end.
Currently, there are 173 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus with one death reported in Mumbai, Delhi, Kalaburagi and Punjab each. Earlier in the day, the government of India announced stringent measures to combat the novel Coronavirus crisis. For instance, international flights shall not be allowed to land in India from March 22 for a week. Moreover, the Centre has directed the state governments to advise the people below the age of 10 and above the age of 65 to remain at home. The state governments have also been instructed to enforce work from home for private-sector employees barring for those working in emergency or essential services.
Meanwhile, the Railways and airlines have been asked to suspend all concessional travel except for students, patients and divyang category. To minimize crowding, all Group B and C central government employees will attend office on alternate weeks besides the introduction of staggered timings for all employees. Earlier, India had already suspended all visas, barring for a few categories such as diplomatic and employment apart from keeping in abeyance the visa-free travel facility to OCI cardholders till April 15. The Centre had “strongly advised” Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.