Indian PM Modi orders a 21-day lockdown amid COVID-19 outbreak

Apr 6, 2020 | International, News

People watch Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on TV screens inside a showroom in Ahmedabad, India on March 19, 2020. (REUTERS/Amit Dave)
Shruti Mehra

Indian PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21-days on March 24 to curb the spread of coronavirus around the country.

The worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to announce the shut down to protect its 1.3 billion people from the virus.

“In light of health sector experts and experiences of other countries, the nation is taking a very important decision that it shall go under complete lockdown,” Modi said in a public announcement.

The instructions state all the union territories, states, districts, villages, and municipalities will be under a complete shut down for a period of no less than 21-days.

“The only way to be safe from coronavirus is social distancing and it is my plea to you to continue staying wherever you are right now in the country,” he said.

The decision to lock down the nation was taken considering the success of the Janta (civil) curfew, observed on March 22, where people stayed at home on a Sunday to break the chain of the infection.

Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu acknowledging the efforts of the healthcare staff and other workers for providing their essential services while commemorating the success of the Janata Curfew on March 22, 2019. ( Twitter)

The announcement of the complete shutdown panicked some living in some metropolitan cities including New Delhi and Mumbai as they rushed to grocery stores and pharmacies to stock up essentials.  

Modi said the country would also face economic difficulty.

He said the private sector is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the citizens during this crucial time to help provide all basic amenities.

The Indian government is following various preventive measures advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide essential treatment and equipment to those in need.

“The government has boosted the number of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Corona testing facilities, ICU beds, isolation beds, and ventilators,” said Ajay Joshi, a reporter at The Tribune.

Joshi said continuous efforts are being put by the government to build a strong healthcare system in India and various training sessions are being conducted for the medical and paramedical staff.  

The number of COVID-19 cases in India surged to 3,851 with 111 deaths as of April 6, according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“The government is considering every situation briefly and it is planning to introduce programs to support senior citizens and people living in poverty,” Joshi said.

India is among other countries, including Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, Columbia, South Africa, Jordan, Bolivia and Tunisia, that have ordered a complete shutdown.

Globally, as of April 6, more than 1.2 million people have been infected by the coronavirus and about 70,600 people have died since the virus emerged in Wuhan, China.