Today's Paper

COVID-19: PM calls for social distancing, people’s curfew

Task force to reduce economic impact; employers told to pay employees in full

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged Indians across the country to face the coronavirus pandemic with collective determination and patience, to make sure that “humanity and India prevails”. In his address to the nation over television, Mr Modi also announced the setting up of the COVID-19 task force, under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for measures to mitigate some of the economic hardships engendered by the pandemic.

There were nine calls to action in Prime Minister Modi’s address including a self imposed ‘janata curfew’ (people’s curfew) on March 22, not to resort to panic buying, asking senior citizens to stay indoors, social distancing, avoiding elective surgery or routine health check-ups to not over burden health services, asking employers to pay employees in full when they have to stay home and to stay away from rumours.

Global crisis

The pandemic, the Prime Minister said, was a serious, global crisis, “involving more countries than any previous natural or political crisis, even during World War I or World War II.”

Mr Modi said as there was no clear treatment, medicine or vaccine to counter the novel coronavirus, it was incumbent on people to observe escalation via social distancing. He asked all Indians to observe a voluntary People’s Curfew between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday. This, he said, would be observed and implemented by the people themselves, to not stir out of their houses.

He also asked that on Sunday, at 5 p.m., people should step out on their balconies, verandas or doorways and clap or beat thalis (metal plates) to express their appreciation for the work of workers at hospitals, airports, railways, and other essential services, who he said “were our bulwark, till now against the pandemic.”

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