Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a “Janata curfew” on Sunday March 22 as a test run for social distancing over the next few days to fight the spread of coronavirus. Everyone must stay home from 7 am to 9 pm that day and abide by it.
The Prime Minister also cautioned citizens against hoarding and panic-buying, assuring that there would be no shortage of essentials like milk, medicines and food.
“Under this Janata (public) curfew, no one should leave their home or gather in their neighbourhoods. Only those related to essential services should go out,” said PM Modi.
“At 5 pm, we will stand at our balconies, windows or doors for 5 minutes and we will applaud those maintaining essential services by ringing bells, sounding sirens and clapping…,” he said.
The Prime Minister suggested that the one-day exercise would help people get used to self-isolating. Stay home unless absolutely essential in the next few weeks, he said, urging determination and restraint.
“I want the next few weeks from you, I want your time,” he said, stressing on the need to avoid what he called a sudden explosion of the outbreak, after the first few days, in other nations. “Today’s generation may not be very familiar with this, but in the olden times, blackouts were observed at night during wartime. This would at times go on for prolonged periods. Several times, there would also be blackout drill,” he remarked.
Coronavirus, he said, had affected more nations than the World War and the growing challenge posed by the outbreak was not normal.
“There is no cure for this, so we need to remain healthy. We need to avoid crowds and stay home. Social distancing is critical. If you think you can roam around as usual and feel you will not be at risk, this is incorrect; you are endangering yourself and your family.”
Coronavirus cases in India climbed to 173 on Thursday after 18 new cases were reported. Four people have died.
The government also urged work from home for most and advised those below 10 and above 65 to stay home.
India remains at Stage 2 of the outbreak, which means the spread is through local transmission, which can be traced. The health ministry said there is no evidence of community transmission yet, in which it is hard to tell how the patient contracted the virus.