Tuesday 31 March 2020
 
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Modi announces nationwide lockdown for 21 days

MUMBAI, 7 days ago

In an unprecedented move, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a nationwide lockdown starting from midnight for 21 days to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In his special address to the nation on Tuesday, his second in a week, Modi said: "This lockdown will be strictly imposed in every village and every lane. According to health experts, 21 days are necessary to break the cycle of coronavirus. If these 21 days are not observed as a lockdown, it will take us back 21 years."

India has so far reported 482 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nine deaths.

He said the country was at the stage "where our actions today, will decide that to what extent we can bring down the impact of this disaster. This is the time to strengthen our resolve again and again."

Making an emotional appeal to his countrymen, Modi said: "I urge you to forget the outside world for these 21 days. Forget every work except the work of staying at home."

"With this order, we have drawn a 'lakshman rekha' around your house from now onwards," Modi said, giving details of the complete nationwide lockdown in effect from tonight.

On the economic front in battle against the deadly virus, Modi announced a Rs150 billion ($1.97 billion) package mainly to acquire medical equipment and protective gear, and also increase training of medical and paramedical staff, testing facilities, PPEs, ICUs, and ventilators.

"I have appealed to state governments to make the public healthcare the highest priority right now. I am also sure that private companies will also join in the efforts to curb the infection," he added.

Soon after the address, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued guidelines on the 21-day lockdown ordered to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Tuesday.

Listing the establishments that will mandatorily remain closed during the lockdown, the ministry also listed the exemptions including grocery and ration shops, petrol pumps, banks, ATMs, etc.

During the three-week lockdown, all Central government offices will be shut except defence, central armed police forces, treasury, public utilities (including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG), disaster management, power generation and transmission units, post offices, national information centre, early warning agencies.

In all the states, government offices will remain closed except police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, and prisons; district admin and treasury;  electricity, water, and sanitation and municipal bodies.

As per MHA guidelines, hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sector, such as dispensaries, chemist and medical equipment shops, labs, clinics, nursing homes, ambulances etc will continue to remain functional.

The transportation for all medical personnel, nurses, para-medical staff, and other hospital support services will also be permitted, it added.-TradeArabia News Service




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