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PM announces nation-wide lockdown for next 21 days

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“We may have to pay a financial cost for this lockdown but it is important for the safety of people”

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for three weeks starting from midnight tonight to stave off the menace of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“In the view of the current situation, the nationwide complete lockdown will be in place for 21 days,” the Prime Minister declared in his second address to the nation in a week.

“If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days, we will be pushed back by 21 years,” PM Modi warned, adding that “this is applicable for everyone, including the Prime Minister.”

His second address comes as India has witnessed a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in the past few days. As per the latest briefing by the Health Ministry, the total number of cases has crossed 500, including 39 who have recovered and nine deaths.

PM Narendra Modi also emphasised the importance of social distancing in tackling COVID-19. “Social distancing is the only option to stay safe and to stop the coronavirus — stay at a distance from each other and stay inside your houses,” he said.

This lockdown, the Prime Minister said, is in a way a curfew and would be more stringent than ‘Janta Curfew’.

“We may have to pay a financial cost for this lockdown but it is important for the safety of people.”

He further stated that an estimated Rs 15,000 crore has been allotted for the virus testing facilities, PPEs, ICUs, ventilators and training medical workers.

The Prime Minister also asked the public to think about the frontline healthcare workers who are fighting tirelessly against the virus.

“Lockdown of 21 days is a long time, but this is important for you and your family’s safety,” he continued. “I believe that every Indian will not only successfully tackle this challenge but also emerge victorious in this time of crisis.”

Until now, the government had shut down domestic commercial aviation, stopping all flights from Tuesday midnight till March 31 with an aim to arrest the spread of the virus. About 30 states and Union territories have now announced a complete lockdown in 548 districts, while in 58 districts of three states, the curbs are partial.

In his previous address, PM Modi had cautioned against complacency on the pandemic while asking people to observe a self-imposed curfew on March 22 by not stepping out of homes between 7 am and 9 pm. He had exhorted people to thank doctors and providers of other essential services by ringing bells, clapping or other means.

He had also announced that an Economic Response Task Force under the leadership of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would decide on a relief package, based on regular interactions and feedback from all stakeholders and an analysis of all situations and dimensions.

From the industry sector to media houses, the Prime Minister has been conducting a series of video conference interactions with various stakeholders on tackling the virus.

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