Modi’s Soft Messaging, State-Wise Announcements: How India Prepared Ground for Prolonged Shutdown
State by state, city by city, over the weekend, the country started getting into a complete lockdown mode after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the Janata curfew call for Sunday.
A view shows empty roads during a 14-hour long curfew to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India, in Ahmedabad, on Sunday. (REUTERS)
New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to convey the urgency and public spirit with which he wanted his country to brace itself against Coronavirus, he recounted how India of 60's prepared for war.
"Villages and towns were blacked out. Everyone was alert and even in the nights people were on constant vigil," he had said in his Thursday's address to the nation. On Sunday, the day of 'Janata Curfew', India responded by announcing a full-blown war against the global pandemic.
State by state, city by city, over the weekend, the country started getting into a complete lockdown mode. The Prime Minister's Office, senior bureaucrats and Chief Ministers were seen working in close coordination to maximise social distancing and minimise community interaction. This includes the Parliament which, sources close to the government say, will shut down after passing the Finance bill on Monday.
At least 14 states - Maharashtra, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Delhi, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand - shut down everything except their essential services.
On Sunday, all passenger train operations, Metro rail services and inter-state bus travel were suspended across India till March 31.
Indian Council of Medical Research Chief Balram Bhargava, while talking about an increase in the number of Covid-19 positive cases, said that India was ready to scale up its testing capabilities to conduct 60,000-70,000 tests a week, which was far more than what first-world countries like France or US were doing.
He said 1200 new ventilators have been ordered and announced that each state in the country will have a specialised hospital dedicated to dealing with Coronavirus patients.
The Centre and states also decided to completely lock down 80 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported. This list includes all the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
Some states have announced a partial lockdown. This includes Uttar Pradesh where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a phase-wise lockdown and Karnataka where Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has announced clampdown in nine districts.
Tripura is shutting down its bus services. Meghalaya has issued an advisory prohibiting operation of all markets, commercial and finance establishments in East Khasi Hills district, all forms of public transport and gathering of more than 5 people in public areas.
The Chief Minister of Bihar, which saw its first Covid-19 related fatality, announced lockdown of its urban districts till March 31 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the number of Corona positive patients in the country rose to 396 and the number of fatalities increased to 7. Various government departments and banks have asked all their staff to work from home, except those working on providing essential services.
Measures that various states have announced to aggressively contain the Coronoavirus pandemic include Andhra Pradesh which has announced a door-to-door survey to identity people with a recent travel history to other countries, Telangana which will only allow one person from each family to step out of the house to get essential supplies, and Maharashtra and Delhi where section 144 was imposed from Sunday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced a complete lockdown in the national capital. Delhi has reported 27 confirmed cases, out of which six cases are of transmission and rest 21 cases are those who have travel history abroad.
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