NEW DELHI, March 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.
In his second address to the nation on the pandemic raging across much of the world with the number of infections rising in India, Modi made a fervent appeal to the countrymen not to cross the ‘lakshman rekha’ of their homes in the next three weeks.
Any negligence in these 21 days will “push the country and your families by 21 years”, he said underlining the massive danger the coronavirus poses.
The experience of countries, which have been able to contain the virus to some extent and experts’ views have made it clear that social distancing caused by a lockdown is the only way to break the cycle of the infection, he said.
This is the only ray of light, he asserted.
“To save India, to save every Indian, there will be a complete ban on people from stepping outside their houses from 12 midnight today,” he said.
“Lockdown is being imposed on every state, union territory, district, village, mohalla and street,” he added.
The lockdown will be like “curfew” and more stringent than the ‘janata curfew’, which the country had observed on Sunday, he said, adding it will have an economic cost but saving people’s lives is of the paramount interest to his government.
A lockdown in most of the country was already in place till March 31, and Modi’s announcement extended it everywhere and for two more weeks after this month.
Modi folded his hands a few times to emphasize his request to citizens to adhere to his call, saying it is applicable to everyone from the prime minister to a citizen in a village.
Even countries like Italy, France and the US with world-class infrastructure have been left helpless due to the spread of the disease despite their relentless efforts, he said, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.
Some people suffer from this wrong mindset that only infected persons need to follow social distancing, he said, warning that such a view can endanger the lives of others and their families. PTI