Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for three weeks to stave off the menace of novel coronavirus. The PM didn’t soften the blow this time. He made it clear if we do not stay inside over the upcoming 21 days, we will be pushed back by 21 years. He said the isolation is applicable for everyone, including the PM himself.
During the lockdown there will be a complete bar on people stepping outside their homes, which the PM called the ‘lakshman rekha’ that shouldn’t be crossed. However, all essential services shall continue and remain functional. This lockdown, the PM said, would be like a curfew and would be more stringent than Sunday’s Janta Curfew.
This was PM Modi’s second address in five days and it was necessitated by the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country. The total number has already crossed 500, including 39 who have recovered and nine deaths.
In Kashmir, the number of COVID-19 patients has risen to four. Fourth person who hails from Bandipora has no foreign travel history. This has become a cause of serious concern as it shows there could have been a community transmission. Meanwhile, J&K administration has tightened restrictions on the movement of people to prevent the contagion. Security forces have sealed off the roads with concertina wires and by erecting barricades. Police vehicles fitted with public address systems were deployed to announce the imposition of curbs under Section 144 CrPC. Drones were also used in some parts of the city to ensure people followed restrictions. On Tuesday, around 49 people were arrested for violating the lockdown order.
Wherever possible, people have been asked to work from home. Only the personnel from essential work departments like health, power, water, food and civil supplies and public works departments can go to their work. Bank and telecommunications staff are being issued movement passes for minimal staff required for running their operations.
These are all welcome measures and so critical to arrest the spread of deadly contagion. And it is incumbent upon people to cooperate. It is more important given the fragile nature of our healthcare infrastructure. According to an estimate, we have just 85 Intensive Care Unit beds in the Valley. God forbid, if our COVID-19 cases rise substantially, it would be impossible for us to handle them. Our system would just collapse. Only option available to us to fight this menace is to stay at home and let the doctors treat the already infected. Let us all cooperate at individual and collective level to defeat the epidemic.