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Avoid Panic Buying, Rumor Mongering, Says PM Modi Amid Chinese Virus Pandemic

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an economic response task force under the finance minister, to deal with the crisis caused by the Chinese coronavirus. In a nationwide address broadcast by Doordarshan on Thursday evening, Modi said the task force would take into account all issues and consult all stakeholders before coming to any decision.

He also called for a “Janata Curfew” on Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm during which people should remain in their homes and avoid going out. But to give thanks to those at the forefront of fighting the Chinese coronavirus, he urged citizens to step out at 5 in the evening and loudly applaud the work of first responders.

The PM’s address seemed largely designed to keep the morale of the nation up, while cautioning citizens on how to behave. “In the last few days an atmosphere has grown that all is not well. But you should never think like this. Every individual must remain, careful, cautious and alert,” he said.

“The coronavirus is no ordinary virus,” he warned, “there is no cure for it, no vaccine, so there will be fear and concern. It is no ordinary virus and to imagine it will not impact us is wrong. To tackle it we must have determination and patience.”

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He advised people to practise social distancing, which he described as “necessary and helpful.” Avoid crowds, he urged. Those who think they will never catch the infection and roam around at will are doing injustice to themselves and their families.

“So i urge you that for the next few weeks, step out only if it is necessary. Work from home as far as possible. Those who are in government, in hospitals, media people, they have to do their job but others must avoid public contact and isolate themselves. Also in our families, senior citizens must not step out of the home.”

Avoid going to hospitals unless it is absoutely necessary, he said. This would help lessen the pressure on them. If non-essential surgery can be avoided or postponed, do so immediately.

He cautioned against panic buying of essential commodities. Government, he said, was making every effort to ensure there would be no shortage of milk and other food items. Avoid rumour mongering, he advised, and listen to what your local authorities are telling you.