Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the country at 8 pm on Tuesday, 24 March. In a major announcement, he declared a nationwide lockdown for 3 weeks. “Every state, union territory, village and district will be a part of this lockdown,” he added. The lockdown will start at midnight on 24th March. 

The PM said that these 21 days are crucial to mitigate the spread of the disease and that the decision was taken after consulting with various health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO). He acknowledged that 3 weeks is a long time and there will be a lot of inconveniences, but that these steps were necessary to prevent suffering in the long term.  

 PM Narendra Modi announces a national lockdown for 21 days starting midnight of 24-25 March

Representational image. PTI

He drew parallels between the boundary of the house and the Laxman Rekha from the Ramayana. He asked the public not to breach this boundary as doing so could endanger not just you, but your family, friends, and ultimately the whole country.

The experience of others

The PM said that the experience of other countries — even developed countries like the US and Italy — suggests that healthcare infrastructure is reeling from the sudden increase in cases. Given that there is currently no treatment, social distancing has emerged as the best possible defence.

He added that there is a misconception about social distancing – those who are young and healthy assume they can venture out since they are low risk. However, doing so puts everyone at risk and irresponsible behaviour of a few can make the whole country pay. Therefore, it is extremely important to listen to the directions of local authorities and the state government. 

Koi Road Par Nahi Nikle: No one come out on the roads

Modi added that symptoms may take a while to show in those who have been infected but they are still contagious during this time; hence the added urgency of social distancing. He said one person can infect over a 100 which would make the infection unmanageable. This is contrary to the evidence as latest studies show the average rate of transmission (or R0, meaning reproduction number) is around 1.5 to 3.5 meaning that one person can transmit to 1.5 to 3.5 other people on average. Quoting Dr Tedros, the director-general of WHO, Modi said, “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases”. 

Essential services will continue but more details awaited

The PM acknowledged the financial hardships faced by many in the country. He maintained his government’s commitment to the poor but didn’t elaborate on any specific plans. Similarly, there was no mention of how households are expected to get basic supplies – more details are awaited and it appears that local authorities will come forward with directions. Modi assured the public that the government was taking steps to keep essential goods flowing. 

Rs 15,000 Crore package to boost health investment 

Modi announced a ₹15,000 crore stimulus for healthcare spending devoted to boosting healthcare resources such as hospitals, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves, hazmat suits), isolation wards, beds and ventilators. There will also be an increase in training of medical and paramedical staff. State governments have also been instructed to make healthcare a priority and the private sector is working alongside the government in filling any gaps.

Don’t fall for rumours and self-medicate

A deluge of misinformation, rumours and fear-mongering has also taken over social media. The PM urged people to not fall for baseless rumours and superstitions and to only trust verified sources for information. Further, given reports of people self-medicating, the PM urged to follow only doctor’s prescriptions as taking drugs without guidance can have harmful side effects. 

A tough measure – but remember to give thanks

Doctors, nurses, paramedics, the media, policemen and the sanitation department were some of the people the PM acknowledged for working despite the lockdown. The country’s functioning is dependent on these people – without them, containment, the only real defence we have against the pandemic, wouldn’t be possible. 

For more tips, read our article on Social Distancing.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

Updated Date: Mar 25, 2020 00:18:15 IST

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