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New Delhi, April 14, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced an extension till May 3 of the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, saying the country could not afford to drop its guard at this stage.
However, he said that there could be a conditional relaxation of the stringent conditions from April 20 in some areas after a review of the situation.
At the same time, he declared that the relaxations could be withdrawn if cases of infection were reported in those areas or if the guidelines are violated.
In a televised address to the nation this morning, he said the Government would strictly enforce the lockdown in the coming days and urged the people to follow all the guidelines in this regard.
The Prime Minister said he had been in continuous touch with the States on how the fight against the coronavirus should progress in India.
"Everyone has suggested that the lockdown should be continued. Many States have, in fact, already decided and declared to continue the lockdown.
"Keeping all the suggestions in mind, it has been decided that the lockdown in India will have to be extended till 3rd May. That means until 3rd May, each and every one of us, will have to remain in the lockdown. During this time, we mustcontinue maintaining discipline in the way we have been doing till now," he said.
Modi urged the people to ensure that the coronavirus did not spread to new areas at any cost.
"A single new patient at even the smallest local level, should be a matter of concern for us. The tragic death of even a single patient from coronavirus, should increase our concern even further.
"Therefore, we have to be very vigilant about hotspots. We will have to keep a close and strict watch on the places which run the risk of becoming hotspots. The creation of new hotspots will further challenge our hard work and penance. Hence, let us extend the strictness and austerity in the fight against corona for the upcoming one week," he said.
The Prime Minister said that, until April 20, every town, police station, district and state would be evaluated on how much the lockdown conditions are being followed. The extent to which the region has protected itself from coronavirus will be noted, he said.
"Areas that will succeed in this litmus test, which will not be in the hotspot category, and will have less likelihood to turn into a hotspot, may be allowed to open up select necessary activities from 20th April. However, keep in mind, this permission will be conditional, and the rules for going out will be very strict. Permission will be withdrawn immediately if lockdown rules are broken, and spread of coronavirus risked. Hence, we must make sure we ourselves don’t become careless, not allow anyone else do so. A detailed guideline will be issued by the Government tomorrow in this regard," he said.
The Prime Minister said the provision for this limited exemption in such identified areas after April 20 had been made keeping in mind the livelihood of the poorer sections.
"Those who earn daily, make ends meet with daily income, they are my family. One of my topmost priorities is to reduce the difficulties in their lives. The government has made every possible effort to help them through the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna. Their interests have also been taken care of while making the new guidelines," he said.
"These days, the harvesting of the Rabi crop is also in progress. The Central and State governments are working together to minimize the problems of the farmers," he said.
Modi began by saying that India’s fight against the global pandemic was moving ahead with great strength and steadfastness.
"It is only because of your restraint, penance and sacrifice that India has so far been able to avert the harm caused by corona to a large extent. You have endured immense suffering to save your country, save your India," he said.
"I am well aware of the problems you have faced -- some for food, some for movement from place to place, and others for staying away from homes and families. However, for the sake of your country, you are fulfilling your duties like a disciplined soldier. This is the power of ‘We, the People of India’ that our constitution talks about.
"This display of our collective strength, by us, the people of India, is a true tribute to Baba Saheb Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, on his birth anniversary. Baba Saheb’s life inspires us to combat each challenge with determination and hard work. I bow before Baba Saheb on behalf of all of us," he said.
He also noted that this was the time of various festivals across different parts of the country.
"Along with festivals like Baisakhi, Pohela Boishakh, Puthandu, and Vishu, the new year has commenced in many states. In the time of lockdown, the manner in which people are abiding by the rules, and celebrating festivals with restraint while staying within their homes, is truly praiseworthy. On the occasion of new year, I wish and pray for your good health," he said.
"You are well aware of the status of the corona pandemic all over the world today. You have been a partner as well as witness to the manner in which India has tried to stop the infection, compared to other countries. Long before we had even a single case of corona, India had started screening travelers coming in from corona-affected countries at airports. Much before the number of corona patients reached 100, India had made 14-day isolation mandatory for all those coming in from abroad. Malls, clubs and gyms were shut down in many places. When we had only 550 corona cases, then itself India had taken the big step of a 21-day complete lockdown. India did not wait for the problem to aggravate. Rather, we attempted to nip the problem in the bud itself, by taking quick decisions as soon as it arose," he said.
"In such a crisis, it is not right to compare our situation with any other country. However, it is also true that if we look at corona-related figures in the world’s big, powerful countries, India today is in a very well-managed position. A month, month and a half ago, several countries had been at par with India in terms of corona infection. But today, corona cases in those countries are 25 to 30 times than that of India. Thousands of people have tragically died in those countries. Had India not adopted a holistic and integrated approach, taking quick and decisive action; the situation in India today would have been completely different," he said.
Modi said it was clearly evident from the experience of the past few days, that India had chosen the correct path. He said the country had greatly benefited from social distancing and the lockdown.
He said that, while the decisions may be appear costly from a purely economic point of view, but measured against the lives of Indian citizens, they were the correct steps to take.
"The path that India has taken within our limited resources has become a topic of discussion in the entire world today," he said.
"The State Governments of the country have also acted with great responsibility in this, managing the situation round the clock. But friends, the way the corona pandemic is spreading amidst all these efforts, has made health experts and governments around the world even more alert," he said.
Modi assured the people that the country had ample reserves of medicines, food and other essential goods and supply chain constraints are continuously being removed. He said the country was also making rapid progress in ramping up health infrastructure as well.
"From having only one testing lab for coronavirus in January, we now have more than 220 functional testing labs. Global experience shows that 1,500-1,600 beds are required for every 10,000 patients. In India, we have arranged more than 1 lakh beds today. Not only this, there are more than 600 hospitals which are dedicated for COVID treatment. As we speak, these facilities are being increased even more rapidly," he said.
"While India has limited resources today, I have a special request for India’s young scientists – to come forward and take a lead in creating a vaccine for coronavirus; for the welfare of the world, for the welfare of the human race.
"If we continue to be patient and follow rules, we will be able to defeat even a pandemic like corona. With this faith and trust, I seek your support for seven things in the end.
"First thing –
Take special care of the elderly in your homes, especially those who have chronic disease.We have to take extra care of them, and keep them safe from coronavirus.
Second thing –
Completely adhere to the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of Lockdown and Social Distancing. Please also use homemade face-covers and masks without fail.
Third thing –
Follow the instructions issued by AYUSH ministry to enhance your immunity. Regularly consume warm water, ‘kadha’.
Fourth thing –
Download the Arogya Setu Mobile App to help prevent the spread of corona infection. Inspire others to download the app as well.
Fifth thing –
Take as much care of poor families as you can.Especially try to fulfill their food requirements.
Sixth thing –
Be compassionate towards the people who work with you in your business or industry. Do not deprive them of their livelihood.
Seventh thing –
Pay utmost respect to our nation’s corona warriors – our doctors and nurses, sanitation workers and police force.
"Friends, I urge you to follow the rules of lockdown with utmost sincerity until 3rd May. Stay wherever you are, Stay safe," he added.
The 21-day lockdown was imposed from March 25 and was due to end at midnight tonight.
Before arriving at a decision on the extension, Modi had held discussions with Chief Ministers of all States through a video conference on April 11.
At that meeting, the Prime Minister had noted that there seemed to be a consensus among the Chief Minsiters that the lockdown should be extended by another two weeks.
At the same time, he underlined that the motto of the Government earlier was "Jaan Hai to Jahaan Hai", but now it was "Jaan Bhi, Jahaan Bhi", which meant he was inclined to accord equal importance now to saving lives and livelihood, unlike the earlier emphasis on saving lives even if it meant a temporary economic setback, both for the nation and the people.
That was the third such interaction between Modi and the Chief Ministers to strategise on the COVID-19 crisis after the earlier ones on March 20 and April 2.
Today's address to the nation was Modi's fourth since March 19 on the coronavirus crisis that has hit the country and the rest of the world.
On April 3, he had posted a short video message in which he had urged the 1.3 billion people of India to light candles, lamps or torches for nine minutes from 9 pm on Sunday, April 5, to dispel the "darkness" spread by the pandemic.
On March 24, he had made a televised address to the nation in which he had announced the three-week nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the pandemic.
On March 19, in his first address to the nation on this issue, he had asked the people to observe a "Janata Curefew" (People's Curfew) on Sunday, March 22 and also to stay indoors as much as possible, except for those rendering essential services, for the next few weeks.
His monthly radio address to the peope, Mann Ki Baat, on March 29 morning, was also devoted entirely to the coronavirus outbreak.
Modi has also been holding video conferences with various groups of people over the past several weeks, including Chief Ministers of all States, Heads of Indian Missions abroad, leaders of social organisations, doctors, nurses and lab technicians, editors, radio jockeys, with representatives of the pharmaceuticals industry and with SAARC Leaders. He also participated in the extraordinary virtual summit of G20 Leaders on March 26.