Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation for the 7th time ever since the Wuhan virus has spread and become a worldwide pandemic. The first lockdown had started on March 24, and a Janata curfew was observed two days before that on a Sunday. This time, Modi has given a clear message that the festival season starting soon can be a difficult time if precautions are not observed. Wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and hygiene, washing hands repeatedly with soap, or using sanitisers, are habits we have to cultivate. Over the last eight or nine months, these three things have emerged as the most important ingredients to prevent the virus spread. It has also been observed all over the world that violation of social distancing norms can have dangerous consequences. COVID warriors are people directly involved in combating the Chinese virus. Be it in hospitals as doctors and paramedics, or those involved in providing sanitation services, or for that matter, the personnel drawn from various law enforcement agencies who ensure smooth travelling and people involved in ensuring smooth operations of supply chains. In his message, Modi has virtually urged every citizen to join the war against virus and be a warrior against it.He said that the virulence and impact of virus on countries like the US and Brazil has been far worse than in India. Quoting figures, he said that if we use the metrics of infection per million (10 lakh), we see 5,500 infections in India as against 25,000 infections recorded in the US. A comparison on a similar yardstick tells us that while India has seen 83 deaths per 10 lakh population, the number of deaths has been 600 in the US and Brazil. India has augmented the requisite health infrastructure at a very fast pace but we have to remember that the best cure still remains prevention. All over India, the festivals of Dussehra and Diwali are celebrated in different ways, with large scale gatherings a common sight everywhere. This time, however, gatherings and an overt display of conviviality are the last things that can be termed as reflection of a caring social attitude. Instead of calling on friends and meeting them face to face, it is far better to stay away from one another, stay in touch over phone and convey wishes from a distance. In our society, visiting one’s friends, coupled with an exchange of gifts and sweets, marked the festivals every year. The method and manner of conveying regards to one another will need to be altered this year. Letting down our guards, giving up social distancing and other measures are not choices till a reliable vaccine against the virus is available, Modi urged all. Let that sink in.
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