Modi says lockdown should be a measure of the last resort in fight against COVID-19
New Delhi, April 20, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that State Governments must treat lockdown as a measure of the last resort in the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and stressed that the effort was to save economic activities and ensure minimum adverse impact on the livelihood of the people.
"In today’s circumstances, we have to save the country from lockdown," he said in a televised address to the nation late this evening at a time when the country is staring at a major crisis with a sudden spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in several states.
This has led to some states imposing lockdowns, night curfews, weekend curfews and various other forms of restrictions to try and break the chain of transmission of the pandemic.
"We have to concentrate on micro-containment zones and have to try our best to avoid lockdown," he said.
Modi began by expressing condolences for the lives lost to the pandemic in recent times.
“I am with you in this time of grief as a family member. The challenge is huge, we have to overcome it collectively with determination, courage and preparation,” said the Prime Minister. He also paid tribute to the doctors, medical staff, paramedical staff, sanitation workers, ambulance drivers security forces and police force for their contribution in the fight against the deadly virus, which has claimed more than 180,530 lives so far and infected more than 15.321 million people since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in India in late January last year.
The Prime Minister said that the Government was working with speed and sensitivity to meet the increasing demand for medical oxygen in the various parts of the country.
The Centre, State Governments and the private sector are trying to ensure that every needy person gets oxygen. Efforts to increase oxygen production and supply are on at various levels. Measures like installing new oxygen plants, providing one lakh new cylinders, diverting oxygen from the industrial use, and Oxygen Rail are being undertaken, he said.
Modi said that Indian scientists had come out with a vaccine against COVID-19 in a very short time and today it has the cheapest vaccine in the world which is compatible with the cold chain available in the country.
"Due to this team effort, India has embarked upon the world’s largest vaccination drive with two ‘made in India’ Vaccines. From the very first phase of the vaccination drive, it has been emphasized that the vaccine reaches the maximum areas and to the people who need it. India gave the first 10 crore, 11 crore and then 12 crore vaccine doses in the shortest time in the world," he said.
Speaking about the liberalised vaccination strategy announced yesterday, Modi said that, from May 1, all people above 18 years of age can get the vaccines. Half of the vaccine produced in India will go directly to the states and hospitals, he said.
According to him, by opening vaccination for those aged18 years and above, vaccines will be available quickly for the workforce in the cities.
He urged the state governments to boost the confidence of the workers and convince them to stay wherever they are.
"This confidence by the states will greatly help the workers and labourers and they will get the vaccine wherever they are and their work will also not suffer," he said.
The Prime Minister said the country today had much better knowledge and resources to meet the challenge than the initial days of the first wave of the pandemic.
He praised the people for a "good and patient fight" against the virus and said that, with the strength of their participation, the country would defeat the current wave of the pandemic, too.
He saluted the contribution of social organizations who are helping the people in the time of need and called upon everyone to move forward to help the people who require help.
Modi called upon the youth to help in maintaining COVID-appropriate behaviour in their areas and neighbourhood. He said this would help in avoiding containment zones, curfews and lockdowns.
He also asked children to create an atmosphere where their family members avoid going out unnecessarily.