Lockdown must be the last resort, says Modi as India grapples with Covid-19

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the nation about the second wave of Covid-19 infections via video conferencing, in New Delhi, April 20, 2021. Photo: PTI
As the country grapples with a worrying second wave of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to states that lockdowns should be the last option. In a hurriedly called address to the nation late Tuesday evening, the PM said economic activity and livelihood must remain least impacted. His call for patience during the crisis period came in the backdrop of several states rushing to announce curfews and severe restrictions in different ways.    

“We have to save the country from lockdown...States should focus on micro-containment zones,” Modi said.

The PM asked state governments to urge migrant workers to stay where they are and give them confidence that they wouldn’t lose their income and livelihood. He also gave an assurance that with vaccination opening up for those above 18 years of age from May 1, workforce in cities would be able to get the shot. 

“They will get the vaccine and their work also would not suffer,” Modi said. 

He said that if people followed Covid appropriate behaviour, there would be no need for police enforcement or a lockdown. 

Modi also invoked the festivals of Navratri and Ramzan to imbibe the values of patience and discipline in times of this contagion. 

The experience of the ongoing second wave was vastly different from the first one, Modi said. The country did not have adequate testing labs, PPE manufacturing abilities or adequate information to treat Covid patients earlier, he elaborated.   

He said the second wave had hit India like a storm and the challenge ahead was big. “We are in a big battle...We have to overcome this difficult situation with courage, resolve and preparation.” 

He also assured that efforts were being made at all levels to ramp up the production of oxygen in the country since the demand had gone up. “We are sensitive to the issue and working to resolve it. All in need should get oxygen.” 

While expressing his grief and condolences to all those the families of those who lost their lives in this second wave, Modi said, “I am with you in this grief like a member of your family. I am aware of what you have undergone and are undergoing.” 

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He said the country was expanding its testing and pharmaceutical capacity. The Prime Minister also appealed to his “bal mitra” (children) to take initiative like they did during the Swachch Bharat campaign and ensure that no one in their household steps out without any reason.

He also asked the youth to form committees in their society buildings and apartments to ensure Covid discipline is followed. 

Modi lauded the medical staff and frontline workers for putting their lives at risk to save others day and night. He also appreciated the efforts of NGOs and social workers to help those in need by providing food and medicines.

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