Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ‘Janta Curfew’ in the entire nation on March 22, from 7 am to 9 pm — a step to avoid public gatherings and to prevent the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.

He also urged the countrymen to call at least 10 people every day and tell them about the ‘Janta Curfew’ as well as the measures to prevent the coronavirus.

“On that day, at 5 pm, we will stand at our balconies, windows or doors for 5 minutes, we will show our gratitude to those maintaining essential services by ringing bells, sounding sirens and clapping,” he said.

PM’s address came as the number of cases of novel coronavirus swelled to 173, including 19 who have recovered and four deaths.

Earlier, there were speculations that a national lockdown would be imposed due to the deadly virus, but the PM’s speech thrashed them by imposing a one-day unofficial lockdown, which he termed as for the people and by the people.

“Under Janata Curfew, no one should leave their home or gather in their neighbourhoods. Only those related to essential services should go out,” said PM Modi.

“I request all people in the country to get out of the house only when it is extremely necessary, try and do all work from home,” he said.

PM Modi urged those who are above 60 years of age not to venture out of their homes for the next few weeks.

“For a developing country like ours with a large population, the growing challenge of coronavirus is not a normal situation,” PM Modi said.

Pressing the need to be extra cautious in this situation, PM Modi said, “For the last few days, it looks like if we are safe from coronavirus. This belief is not right. Hence, it is very important for every Indian to remain aware and alert.”

PM Modi also said a special task force will be formed by the government to analyse the effects of the deadly novel coronavirus on nation’s economy.

The team would be led by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he told. “The special task force would take an overview of the situation and suggest the way ahead,” he said.

PM Modi also ensured that there is no need to hoard foods and other items, as the government is taking steps to ensure no shortage of these items.

“I want to reassure that all steps are being taken to ensure that the supply of milk, medicines and food does not stop. Do not hoard, be sensitive towards the need of others,” he said.

Earlier in the day, in the light of the looming high risks posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Government of India (GoI) has declared Restricted Movement Order from 18 to 31 March 2020.

The Order has come into effect from 12 midnight, 18 March 2020. This was conveyed by an administration notification.