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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday extolled what he called India’s “people-driven" fight against the novel coronavirus. However, he was quick to add that one lesson from the pandemic was that Indians will have to stop spitting in public places “once and for all" to ensure basic hygiene in general.

“Look around and you will see how India has taken up a people-driven battle against covid-19. Every Indian is a soldier in this fight. India is a country fighting to eradicate poverty, and the people-driven approach to fight coronavirus is a strong step in this direction," said Modi in his monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat.

One lesson from the pandemic was to wear masks even in normal times. “Among the welcome changes in the post-coronavirus era is the awareness about the need to wear masks. A mask is something we will have to keep wearing in the times to come. It does not mean the person wearing a mask is unwell; it is just a wise precaution."

The other was for people to stop spitting in public, a habit that India has found impossible to eradicate. “Friends, another awareness that has come about in our society is that people now understand the damage that can be caused by spitting in public places. It had been a part of our bad habits that we would spit just about anywhere. This presents a serious challenge both to cleanliness and to health."

“Although if we look at it, we have always been aware of this problem, but this problem just refused to get addressed by our society. But it’s time now to get rid of this problem once and for all. As they say, better late than never. So, even though we have been late in addressing it, now we must eradicate the spitting habit. These things will not only boost our basic hygiene levels, but also help in preventing the spread of the corona infection," he added.

Making common people the stakeholders in the fight against the pandemic has been the focus of Modi’s outreach, beginning with the first Janata Curfew on 22 March, followed by a gesture of mass appreciation of healthcare professionals and other frontline workers. Modi addressed the nation to announce two successive lockdowns.

Talking about the spread of the pandemic, Modi said the union and state governments were fighting the pandemic together. The remark comes just a day before a planned meeting with all chief ministers to discuss further steps required to fight the coronavirus.

“I would like to praise the role of state governments in the fight against coronavirus. The local administration and state governments are working hard, and their efforts are praiseworthy. There is great appreciation for the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. This ordinance was necessary to stop attack on doctors, nurses and medical staff, who are the real corona warriors," he said.

Modi said India had taken a decision to provide medicines to different countries during the pandemic. He said that help was given to countries after making arrangements for the requirements of the Indian people.

He added that the war against coronavirus had united the country as people are coming forward to help each other, providing food for the poor and making medicines available for others.

People have realized that there is a need to adapt to the new changes to fight against the coronavirus, Modi said.

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