Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Tuesday, October 20, asked citizens not to lower their guard in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during the festive season as the virus is still around even though restrictions have been eased.
Mr. Modi, in his seventh address to the citizens on the pandemic, reiterated his earlier slogan, “ Jab tak dawai nahi, tab tak dhilai nahin [Don’t lower your guard until a vaccine is found],” to stress the point that a “little carelessness can spell grief for the people”.
At one point, the Prime Minister appealed to the citizens with folded hands to wear masks, sanitise their hands and maintain social distance as he wanted to see them happy.
Role of media
He also appealed to the media and social media platforms to create public awareness among citizens about the need to be careful.
“Until a vaccine against this pandemic is found, we should never allow the fight against corona to weaken… We should not forget that even if the lockdown is gone, the virus has not. With the effort of every Indian for the past seven-eight months, the situation today is stable. We should improve upon it and not allow it to deteriorate,” Mr. Modi said.
“This is not the time to get careless or believe that corona is gone or that there is no threat from it. In recent days, we have seen many pictures and videos where people are either lax or have stopped being careful. This is not right at all. If you are careless and moving around without mask, you are putting yourself, children and the elderly at risk,” the Prime Minister added.
Mr. Modi said that the whole world was working on a war footing to find a vaccine. A few vaccines were at an advanced stage of trial in India. He said his government was working on a plan “to deliver it to every Indian within the shortest possible time” once these vaccines were ready.
Comparing India’s situation with other countries such as the U.S, Brazil, Spain and Britain, the Prime Minister underlined the country’s “success” in saving lives.
He said while there are nearly 25,000 COVID-19 cases for one million population in countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, India has only 5,500. Similarly, the number of fatalities in India is 83 per million population against more than 600 deaths per million in nations like the U.S., Brazil, Spain and Britain.
Mr. Modi also said India now has more than 90 lakh beds for COVID-19 patients, 12,000 quarantine centres, 2,000 labs for testing and, soon, the total numbers of tests will cross 10 crore. “The rate of testing has been one of our strengths,” he added.
Mr. Modi wrapped up his 12-minute speech by wishing citizens for the upcoming festivals including Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Chhath, Eid-Milad-un-Nabi and Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary.
Reacting to the Prime Minister's address, the Congress said that Mr Modi must answer for the "failure of leadership".
In a joint statement, Congress' Randeep Surjewala and Pawan Khera said India had become the "corona capital" with the highest death rate.
"Kindly tell the country on how to control the volatile situation of the pandemic... . How will he revive the falling economy? Does he have a solution or will he blame it on God," they asked in their statement