Covid-19: 14-hr ‘janata curfew’ on Sunday, no need to hoard, don’t cut wages, PM Modi says | India News

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday rallied the nation for the fight against coronavirus, calling on citizens to observe a “janata curfew” by staying indoors on Sunday between 7am and 9pm as an expression of resolve to emphasise the need to reduce public interaction to the very minimum.
In his much-awaited televised address, the PM minced no words in underlining the gravity of the threat and said there was no room for complacency as the seeming normalcy could be deceptive. “We have been tracking the trend of Covid-19 and have seen how the number of cases in other affected countries exploded after the initial trickle,” he said, making it clear that India should brace for the long haul.
Modi was also forthright in stressing that the world was yet to find a cure for the pandemic and no medicine or vaccine was available. However, he said, the risk could be averted if people showed “resolve” and exercised “restraint”, emphasising on the cruciality of “social distancing” for citizens to protect themselves and others from being infected.
“There is only one mantra — if we are healthy, then so will the world. Keeping away from crowds, staying at home, social distancing, is very necessary and effective,” he said before he buttressed his pitch for “social distancing” with the call for “janata curfew”.
“If you feel nothing will happen and go to markets and walk around the streets, then you are endangering yourself and those close to you. I appeal that for a few weeks, step out only if it is very necessary. Work from home,” he said.
The PM warned that optimism over low incidence so far might be misplaced and cautioned against the risk of smugness. “The whole of humankind is in danger and even during World War I and II, so many nations were not affected. In the last few days, there has been an atmosphere (mahaul) that we are safe, but complacency is not right. It is very necessary for every citizen to be alert,” he said.
The warning against complacency and that the seeming normalcy could be deceptive comes at a time when the country is anxiously waiting to see whether it has been able to dodge “community transmission” of the disease when it spreads to people who have not been abroad or in contact with such people.
The PM also asked citizens to record their appreciation for frontline workers like doctors and nurses, those at hospitals and airlines, railway and bus staff, media and home delivery riders by clapping, ringing bells or banging steel plates at doors and windows of their houses at 5pm on Sunday. “They are the last sentinel between Covid-19 and India… thank them by clapping, ringing bells or thalis, salute them,” he said.
In his televised address, Modi warned there was no sure-fire cure, medicine or vaccine that offered protection against Covid-19 even as he urged people to put off non-essential visits to the doctor and reschedule surgeries that could be postponed.
He appealed to employers not to remove people off the rolls and to maintain salaries as he said the disease and its economic impact would be hard on the middle, lower middle and poor classes. He said the government was trying to prevent the pattern experienced by some countries where Covid-19 cases spiked, posing a serious challenge to healthcare systems.
“Some nations took necessary decisions and isolated their people. But the role of citizens is central. For a country like India, which is still in the developing stage, the danger posed by coronavirus is not ordinary. When big and developed nations have been hurt, it will be wrong to say it will have no effect on India,” he said.
Describing Covid-19 as a “vaishwik mahamari (global pandemic)”, the PM said the restrictions announced by the Centre and states should be followed. He made a special appeal that senior citizens remain at home for the next few weeks and recalled the blackouts imposed by authorities during wartime and the drills during peace time. A “janata curfew”, he said, will be a test of self-restraint and will prepare people for forthcoming challenges.
Modi asked the NCC, NSS, youth organisations, civil society, sports and religious organisations to spread the word about the janata curfew. “This is a ‘kasauti’ (challenge) for India, to see our preparedness,” he said.
Taking note of reports of hoarding, the PM said there was no need for panic buying. “Do not hoard. In the last two months, every citizen has faced this danger. This danger is so big and global that no one nation will be able to help another and we need to resolutely face the challenges,” he added.

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