India’s PM urges citizens to follow curbs as coronavirus cases rise
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday appealed to citizens to strictly comply with a nationwide lockdown and maintain social distancing norms, as cases of coronavirus mounted steadily despite more than a month-long curfew.
In a radio address, Mr Modi said the country was in the midst of a "war" and urged hundreds of millions of citizens to sustain the "people-driven" fight and not be misled into believing the spread of the virus has been brought fully under control.
"I will urge you that we should not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that in our city, in our village, in our streets, in our office, the coronavirus has not reached and that is why it will not reach," Mr Modi said.
India's high population density, poor sanitation infrastructure, and high rates of internal migration have hastened the spread of the virus.
India has reported 26,496 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and 824 deaths.
The authorities have set up teams to focus on compliance with lockdown measures.
Mr Modi imposed a lockdown of India's 1.3 billion people on March 25, but experts fear that the world's biggest lockdown has not been able to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and the country has been witnessing a surge in cases with testing being ramped up.
"We need to be careful... physical distancing, covering the face with a cover or a mask, and washing our hands again and again will be the biggest medicines to fight this disease in the days to come," Mr Modi said.
On Saturday, India allowed small shops in residential areas to reopen.
The federal Home Ministry said late on Friday that retailers could resume operations with staff numbers reduced by half - as long as employees wore masks and gloves and appropriate social distancing was maintained.
The sale of liquor and other non-essential items continue to be banned, and no shops in large marketplaces or multi-brand and single-brand malls will be allowed to reopen until May 3.
Members of industry groups welcomed the partial resumption of activity but said a large number of businesses faced bottlenecks due to a lack of raw materials and police restrictions on the movement of workers. - REUTERS