Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the second wave of the coronavirus had hit India like a storm but appealed to states to use lockdowns only as the last resort. He also stressed on self-discipline to fight the infection, urging people to step out only if necessary.
“‘We should prevent a lockdown. If you all work together, create awareness then there is no need for containment, never mind a lockdown. I appeal to states that they should use the lockdown as the last resort – our focus should be micro-containment zones. We will take care of economic health as well as the health of countrymen,” PM Modi said in his address to the nation this evening.
“Our effort is to save lives. But the impact on economic activities and livelihoods should also be as less as possible.”
The Prime Minister made it clear that a nationwide lockdown was off the table for now, while listing his government’s efforts to ensure enough oxygen, beds and vaccine.
There was “no question of a lockdown”, he said, if citizens — especially younger people — came forward and helped check the spread of Covid.
“You must step out only if necessary. I assure you, the nation won’t spare any effort to resolve today’s crisis.”
PM Modi referred to the Ram Navami and Ramzan festivals to underscore his message.
“Today is the last day of Navaratri. Tomorrow is Ram Navami. Maryada purushottam Ram’s message is for us to be disciplined. It is also the 7th day of Ramzan. The festival teaches us patience and discipline. Patience and discipline are both needed to fight Covid.”
He likened the second, more deadly wave of the pandemic in India with a storm.
“We were just recovering from the first wave. But then the second wave came at us like a toofan,” said the PM.
“I feel the pain of all those who have lost a loved one in the past few days. The challenge is big but we must cross this with determination and resolve.”
Hours before he spoke, the shortage of oxygen in top hospitals added a new layer to the Covid crisis in several states.
In Delhi, a few private hospitals said they only had oxygen for a few more hours.
“The oxygen demand has increased. We are working with speed and sensitivity to ensure oxygen to all those who need it. The centre, states and private companies, all are working together,” he said.
PM Modi’s address followed a series of meetings he has held with various stakeholders since yesterday amid a spurt of Covid cases across the country. Today, he interacted with vaccine manufactures.
India today reported 1,761 Covid deaths in the last 24 hours, the most since the pandemic broke out. The country also logged over 2.59 lakh new cases; the third straight day of over two lack infections.
The total number of cases now stands at more than 1.53 crore. India is second only to the United States in the total number of cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
Several states have enforced night and weekend curfews while Delhi yesterday announced a six-day lockdown. Maharashtra stopped short of a lockdown but has announced strict restrictions like a four-hour window for grocery, medicine and food shops and home deliveries only till 8 pm.