• Victor Mohan

Top 5 highlights from PM Modi's address on COVID-19

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation today, said the entire country will go under lockdown from midnight to tackle the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nine and infected around 500 people in India.

This is the PM's second address to the nation since Thursday, when he called for a "Janata Curfew" on Sunday, a 14-hour self-quarantine to fight the spread of coronavirus. Since then, almost all of India has come under complete lockdown.

1. 21-day lockdown

From 12 midnight on 25 March, 2020, the entire country will go under complete lockdown. The lockdown will last 21 days -- three weeks. This lockdown is in a way a curfew and would be more stringent than the Janata curfew.

The PM recommended his citizens to forget what it means to go out for 21 days. "Stay at home," he said, "It is for all Indians, every family and even for the Prime Minister."

The laxity of certain people, according to the PM, will jeopardize the entire country -- including you, your parents, friends.

2. Rs. 15,000 Crore allocation for health

The Centre has made an allocation of Rs 15,000 crore for treatment of coronavirus.

In essence, these funds are to be used to strengthen the health system -- procure masks and other PPE, ventilators and laboratory equipment. Further, these funds will be used to make treatment for COVID-19 free under the Ayushman Bharat central insurance scheme.

3. Learn from the experience of other countries

Citing statistics published by the WHO, the PM claimed that it took over 67 days for the first lakh cases to be recorded worldwide. This duration fell to 11 days for the second lakh and just 4 days for the third lakh.

This astonishing exponential spread of the virus has left several "empowered" countries struggling to contain the spread. The list of countries currently battling high incidence of COVID-19 include US, Spain, Italy, Iran, Germany, France and the UK. The only effective strategy employed in these countries is that of 'social distancing'. The PM urged his citizens to adopt this strategy in their fight against the disease.

4. Recognize the sacrifice of front-line workers in this fight

Drawing attention to the tireless efforts of medical professionals including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, media personnel and police officials, the PM stated that it was important to recognize their efforts.

This particular announcement is especially relevant given the high-levels of discrimination faced by these individuals over the last few weeks.

5. Social Media, a double-edged sword must be wielded carefully

Referencing the widespread rumors being circulated on social media, the PM urged his citizens to exercise caution while spreading information sourced on the internet.

At the same time, the PM also lauded the efforts of some social media channels who had devised simple, yet effective messages regarding COVID-19 and effective strategies to contain it.

An official government helpline was also announced. Anyone seeking accurate and reliable answers to any questions on COVID-19 are urged to contact the helpline at +91 9013151515.