Lockdown Day 5 : COVID-19 cases near 1000-mark, PM apologises for difficulties to citizens


Agencies, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday averred the importance of social distancing to fight the Novel Coronavirus, yet apologised for the inconvenience caused to the people of the country in the lockdown period, as the total infectious cases soared to 979 with six fresh deaths from asmany states, in the last 24 hours.

Without mincing any words, the Prime Minister, on his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat, said lockdown is the only solution and those, who are defying it, are playing with their own lives.

"Our citizens must be wondering what kind of Prime Minister I am. But, lockdown is the only solution in front of us. Many people are still defying the lockdown. This is sad. Many people across the world did the same mistake," he said.

Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, giving the details on Sunday about the impact of the pandemic, said that 106 new cases of Coronavirus have been reported in the past 24 hours and the government is putting all efforts to make PPE and other equipment and ventilators available in sufficient numbers, amid the surge of cases in India.
The focal point of the pandemic that is upending the country's economy in unprecedented ways -- Maharashtra -- has reported six deaths so far, followed by Gujarat (4), Karnataka (3), Madhya Pradesh and Delhi (2 each), and one each from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Agarwal also apprised that the government is prepared to deal with repercussions of the lockdown on mental health. "If there are any behavioural issues or lack of understanding, we at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bangalore, in collaboration with all other institutes, have been trying to provide guidance."
Mr Modi, who has already set the tone by leading from the front, is continuing his interactions with various stakeholders, to get firsthand feedback from various quarters.
He interacts with over 200 people on a daily basis, which includes phone calls to various state Governors, Chief Ministers, and Health Ministers and telephonically reaches out to various doctors, nurses, health workers, and sanitation staff from various corners of the country in order to encourage them and to pay gratitude to their yeomen service to the nation and society.

Mr Modi also interacted with people from various walks of life through video-conferencing, in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.

As the political firmament of this country has been forced to put aside their petty political differences and become united in facing the common enemy-COVID-19, the Opposition, mainly the Indian National Congress members, have been in forefront to support their Prime Minister's decision to enforce a lockdown, yet, expressed apprehensions over the delay.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday wrote to Mr Modi, expressing solidarity over the Coronavirus outbreak, however, asking the government to consider a nuanced approach, while imposing the lockdown.

'The world has been forced to take urgent, immediate measures to contain the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus and India is currently in the midst of a three-week lockdown. I suspect that the government will eventually extend this even further', Mr Gandhi said.

'It is important that the government consider a nuanced approach that takes the complex realities of our people into consideration', he added. Stating that the country is facing an 'immense humanitarian crisis', the Congress leader said, "it is critical for us to understand that India's conditions are unique."

'We will be required to take different steps than other large countries who are following a total lockdown strategy. The number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is simply too large for us to unilaterally shut down all economic activity.

'The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from the Covid-19 virus', Mr Gandhi warned in his letter.