Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter this evening to highlight tweets in support of his "janata curfew" by sports stars and actors like tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi, Indian cricket stars Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan and Bollywood stars like Hrithik Roshan and Ajay Devgn. Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen and Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri also tweeted and were re-tweeted by the Prime Minister.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday night, Prime Minister Modi called for a "janata (public)" curfew between 7 am and 9 pm on Sunday to help contain the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak sweeping across the country.
A number of cricketers and other sports stars, as well as actors and politicians have now backed the call.
"Be alert, attentive and aware to combat the threat posed by the Covid 19. We, as responsible citizens, need to adhere to the norms put in place for our safety as announced by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji," Virat Kohli tweeted.
Be alert, attentive and aware to combat the threat posed by the Covid 19. We, as responsible citizens, need to adhere to the norms put in place for our safety as announced by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri @NarendraModi ji. #IndiaFightsCorona— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) March 19, 2020
"Our respected PM Narendra Modiji has requested all to adhere to the janata curfew on 22nd March by staying home. Stay safe you all and take care," Shikhar Dawan tweeted.
Former England cricket star Kevin Pietersen tweeted in Hindi, saying: "Namaste India, hum sab corona virus ko harane mein ek saath hai , hum sab apne apne sarkar ki baat ka nirdes kare aur ghar me kuch Dino ke liye rahe , yeh samay hai hosiyaar rahene ka .App sabhi ko der sara pyaar (We are together in fight against coronavirus. We have to listen to our governments and spend a few days at home. Be vigilant and lots of love," he said.
Namaste india ???? hum sab corona virus ko harane mein ek saath hai , hum sab apne apne sarkar ki baat ka nirdes kare aur ghar me kuch Dino ke liye rahe , yeh samay hai hosiyaar rahene ka .App sabhi ko der sara pyaar ????— Kevin Pietersen???? (@KP24) March 20, 2020
My Hindi teacher - @shreevats1 ????????
The Prime Minister responded to these tweets saying: "Explosive batsmen who've seen teams through crises have something to say to us. We too will come together to fight COVID-19".
Explosive batsmen who've seen teams through crises have something to say to us.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 20, 2020
We too will come together to fight COVID-19. #IndiaFightsCoronahttps://t.co/vSZCibHvzzhttps://t.co/XPXNhJ0Rlxhttps://t.co/0a7JcT4IVVhttps://t.co/wEIFA6ZehQhttps://t.co/e63GDehTOg
Tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi, who ruled the world of men's doubles alongside Leander Paes, had tweeted: "Big move by our PM Narendra Modi .. Our country needed to hear it from him. Let's get behind him and support the janata curfew".
PM Modi responded: "Whether it is forehand or backhand, the battle against coronavirus begins with clean hands. Thanks Mahesh and Sumit for motivating the nation at this important moment".
Whether it is forehand or backhand, the battle against Coronavirus begins with clean hands. Thanks Mahesh and Sumit, for motivating the nation at this important moment. #IndiaFightsCoronahttps://t.co/gMA6ZVTayohttps://t.co/t5YhnLavXl— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 20, 2020
Others who tweeted and were thanked by the Prime Minister included wrestling star Geeta Phogat, whose sister Babita is a BJP leader.
Superstar-turned politician Kamal Haasan also tweeted, saying he stood in "full solidarity" with the Prime Minister's curfew call.
I stand in full solidarity with our Prime Minister's call for #JantaCurfew.— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) March 20, 2020
In this extraordinary situation, we have to take extraordinary measures.
It's a disaster that has befallen on us and by staying united and indoors, we can Stay Safe. (1/2)
Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan wrote: "The assuring words & calm demeanor of our leader honourable PM Narendra Modiji gave me comfort". Ajay Devgn and Malayalam movie star Mohan Lal also tweeted, as did Akshay Kumar.
The assuring words & calm demeanor of our leader honourable PM @narendramodi Ji gave me comfort. I pledge to follow your instructions Sir, and my respect to all the silent heroes for their relentless work in public interest. https://t.co/9yMlho6lQ1— Hrithik Roshan (@iHrithik) March 19, 2020
The Prime Minister thanked these personalities, saying he "urged fellow Indians to listen to some of the most distinguished film personalities of the country"
I would urge my fellow Indians to listen to what some of the most distinguished film personalities of the country have to say. #IndiaFightsCorona— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 20, 2020
Opposition leaders also tweeted, with Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu among them.
"Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modiji has clearly spelt out the dire circumstances following the outbreak of #CoronaVirus in India. These are testing times for the nation and we must fight with resilience and social distancing," Mr Naidu posted.
NCP leader Supriya Sule and Andhra actor-politician Pawan Kalyan, whose Jana Sena Part has entered into an alliance with PM Modi's BJP ahead of Assembly elections in 2024, also tweeted.
The Prime Minister replied saying bipartisan support was "deeply appreciated".
India has reported over 220 cases of this infectious illness, with more than 50 cases being confirmed today - this is the largest single-day jump in cases since the outbreak began weeks ago.
Medical experts have said social distancing, or remaining isolated at home from other people (and not just confirmed cases) is one of the best ways to fight transmission of the virus. Doctors have also urged people to wash their hands, thoroughly and frequently, with soap or alcohol-based sanitisers.
In response, government offices have gone into "work from home" mode. Private companies have been encouraged to follow suit. State governments have shut down public spaces such as malls, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools and also temporarily closed educational institutions.
On Thursday Punjab shut down all public transportation; certain relaxations were, however, made today.
The virus, which originated in China's Wuhan in December last year, has infected over 2 lakh people across the world and killed over 8,000.