As the fear and panic around coronavirus intensifies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address the nation at 8 pm tonight. Indians would be expecting PM Modi to talk about the coronavirus pandemic and how the government plans to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
Here are a few questions Indians would expect PM Modi to answer:
How fast is the virus spreading?
If the global scenario is taken into consideration then it is evident that the virus spreads rather fast. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 14 days. In countries such as China, Italy and Iran, hundreds of new cases were reported in a single day. So far in India, the spread has been contained. However, it must be pointed out that India, with such a massive population, has also carried out significantly fewer tests, with most focussed at airports and hospitals.
Will India announce relief package to fight coronavirus?
While other countries have announced funding, India is yet to jump into the bandwagon. Dr Arun Singh, chief economist, Dun & Bradstreet India said, "At this point of time we are more worried about the controlling perspective of the epidemic. I expect, in a week or two, there will be an advisory by the Finance Ministry or the PMO on the economic action that they will be taking to keep the economy floating."
Will markets be shut? Should people stock up? For how long?
Panic buying is already taking place in India over fears that the government is going to announce a lockdown. On the back of such fears, offline stores are staring at empty shelves as essential items such as rice, flour, oil, sanitisers, cleaning products are being hoarded by customers. Online stores such as Bigbasket and Grofers are witnessing a sharp increase in orders
Will there be a lockdown?
While India is not likely to undergo an official lockdown, the government has asked people to stay indoors for as long as possible. Most schools, colleges, institutions, companies, malls, theatres, restaurants will be shut till March 31. Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar tweeted, "Some media outlets are speculating that PM Modi will announce a lock down in his address. This information is incorrect. It will also create unnecessary panic in minds of people, which is the last thing we need in times like this."
What is the government's plan to fight coronavirus?
The government aims to minimise social gathering and crowding at public places for now. It is also trying to increase testing centres and isolation wards. Most importantly, the government would want to contain the panic.
What has the government done so far?
The Indian government has taken a slew of measures to combat coronavirus. For starters it has banned the entry of any foreign national to the country. International flights have been suspended. Borders with neighbouring countries have also been closed.
Domestically, the state governments and the Centre have urged people to avoid non-essential travel. Schools, colleges, theatres, restaurants, and malls have been ordered to close till at least March 31. Events and tournaments have been cancelled or postponed, CBSE and ICSE exams have been cancelled till the end of the month. In some cities such as Gurugram, the government has also announced MNCs to let their employees work from home.
Why is the government not roping in the private sector to manage the crisis?
So far, all the tests and treatments are being carried out by the Centre and under the government's supervision. It is to be seen if the private sector is roped in as and if cases increase.
Are states cooperating?
All the states in India have different governments, including from parties other than the ruling BJP. However, both the Centre and state governments are cooperating so far to curb the spread.
Will India declare a health emergency?
This is something everyone has been wondering. Many other countries have declared health emergencies. However, it remains to be seen how India goes about it.
How is the government spreading awareness?
The government is trying to spread awareness through the internet, media as well as print. For instance, the Indian Railways has printed pamphlets and distributed them among its passengers. The government is also playing a pre-recorded message as a caller tune every time an individual places a call. Ministers and celebrities are also doing their bit to spread awareness through the internet with videos and posts.Are Indian banks ready to absorb Covid-19 impact?Coronavirus update: 50% central govt employees to work from home