Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning urged people to "increase social distance and decrease emotional distance" as the country observes a 21-day lockdown to control spread of coronavirus or COVID-19.
In his monthly radio address "Mann Ki Baat", he referred to reports of discrimination against coronavirus patients and those under quarantine amid rising number of cases across India. "It is not fair to discriminate against those under quarantine... they are taking precautions," PM Modi said, addressing the nation.
"Social distancing is not about ending social interaction... This is the time to infuse new life in your relationships.... Increase social distance but decrease emotional or human distance," he added.
"I've told you to not to step outside... this is the time to introspect."
A nationwide lockdown was announced by PM Modi on Tuesday to control COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over half a million people in the world. In India, more than 970 have contracted the infection so far, at least 25 people have died. The illness spreads fast in crowded places.
"Every Indian is locked for now. But we will emerge stronger after this fight against COVID-19," PM said today. "This fight against COVID-19 is unprecedented but also challenging. In this fight, whatever steps Indians are taking, every citizen's patience will help us. We also have to be sensitive to the needs of poor. India can do this," he said.
On "behalf of the nation", he also thanked all those working to provide essential services during this period of lockdown by "risking their own lives".
Today's episode of "Mann Ki Baat" was the third time PM Modi address the country over COVID-19 amid scare over the highly contagious disease. The three-week lockdown was announced two days after millions stayed indoors after PM's call of 14-hour self-quarantine, dubbed as "Janata Curfew".