NEW DELHI, April 26 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday appealed to citizens to strictly comply with a nationwide lockdown and maintain social distancing norms, as cases of coronavirus mounted steadily despite over a month-long curfew.
In a radio address, Modi said the country was in the midst of a “war” and urged hundreds of millions of citizens to sustain the “people driven” fight and not be misled into believing the spread of the virus has been brought fully under control.
“I will urge you that we should not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that in our city, in our village, in our streets, in our office, coronavirus has not reached and that is why it will not reach” Modi said.
India’s high population density, poor sanitation infrastructure, and high rates of internal migration has hastened the spread of the virus.
India has reported 26,496 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and 824 deaths. The authorities have set up teams to focus on compliance with lockdown measures.
Modi imposed a lockdown of India’s 1.3 billion people on March 25 but experts fear that the world’s biggest lockdown has not been able to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and country was witnessing a surge in cases with testing being ramped up.
“We need to be careful that physical distancing, covering the face with a cover or a mask and washing our hands again and again will be the biggest medicine to fight this disease in the days to come,” Modi said.
On Saturday, India allowed small shops in residential areas to reopen although with staff members reduced by half and there were expected to wear masks and gloves during work hours.
For a graphic on India's death rates, please see: tmsnrt.rs/3bBGfZ5 (Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Rupam Jain and Christian Schmollinger)