Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 24 March announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that this is necessary for a decisive battle against the coronavirus outbreak.
In his second address to the nation on the pandemic raging across much of the world, Modi said the decision will have an economic cost but saving people's lives is of the paramount interest to his government.
Modi made a fervent appeal to the countrymen not to cross the ''lakshman rekha'' of their homes in the next three weeks.
“If we don’t handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years,”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
There will be complete bar on people from stepping outsides their homes, he said and even folded his hands to emphasise his request to citizens to adhere to the call.
The prime minister asserted that experts and the experience of countries fighting the deadly virus make it clear that the social distancing is the only way to combat the disease.
Underlining that health services should be the only priority of state governments at this time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Centre has made a provision of Rs 15,000 crore to strengthen the country's health infrastructure to tackle coronavirus.
Modi informed that the availability of testing facilities related to COVID-19, personal protective equipment, isolation beds, ICU beds, ventilators and other necessary tools are being increased rapidly.
“The Centre has made a provision of Rs 15,000 crore for strengthening country’s health infrastructure for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients,”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
Modi said he has requested the state governments that their only priority at this time should be health services. He also suggested people to stay away from superstitions, rumours and everyone must follow only credible medical advice.
The decision for nationwide lockdown comes in the light of increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday, 24 March reported that the total number of positive cases in India has risen to 519, with 470 active cases while India’s death toll rose to 10.