Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a scheduled video message on the novel coronavirus at 9 am Friday.
The message was aimed at creating hope among people amidst the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 2,000 in the country on Thursday while the death toll rose to 53, according to the Union Health Ministry.
What Modi said:
— On 9th day of lockdown, you have all observed this measure with discipline and diligence.
— We must take those worst affected by the outbreak—the poor—from distress to hope.
— At 9 pm on Sunday, April 5, switch off all the lights in the house and light candles, lamps, torch or mobile flashlights for nine minutes. In this light, we will see our combined effort to fight the outbreak and each one of us will know that we are not alone in this fight.
— I also request that nobody gathers in groups, or on the streets for this. We must not break the rules of social distancing. (Previous addresses by Modi have led to panic on the streets and mass gatherings.)
Last month, the prime minister had addressed the nation twice ― on March 19 and March 24.
On March 19, Modi had called for resolve and restraint to fight coronavirus. He had also announced a ‘janta curfew’ on March 22, a Sunday. He asked people to show appreciation for healthcare workers on this day by clanging vessels and clapping together at 5 pm. As a result, people had gathered on the streets in large numbers, breaking the rules of social distancing.
On March 24, he had announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the deadly virus. The announcement caused widespread panic as the government did not announce relief measures for daily wage workers and migrant labourers.
The lockdown led to a mass exodus of workers from big cities, seen as one of the biggest humanitarian crisis to emerge from the outbreak. At least 22 people died while trying to get back to their home in rural India.
On Thursday, Modi held a meeting with chief ministers on the COVID-19 outbreak via video-conferencing. Nine chief ministers attended the meeting at which Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Harsh Vardhan were also present.
According to a statement, the prime minister pitched for formulating a common exit strategy to ensure “staggered re-emergence of the population” once the lockdown ends on April 14.
Modi asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions on a strategy for exit from the lockdown.
“The prime minister outlined that the common goal for the country is to ensure minimum loss of life. In the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus,” the statement said.
During the interaction, the prime minister said the global situation remained far from satisfactory and mentioned speculations of a “possible second wave” of spread of the virus in some countries.