Stay away from rumours, follow doctors' advice: PM Modi on coronavirus contagion

As the coronavirus crisis spreads, Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes an appeal, asking people not to believe rumours regarding the outbreak and to consult doctors if unwell.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the world and in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked people to stay away from rumours and emphasised on the need to follow the advice of doctors in this regard.

He also asked people to avoid handshakes and start greeting others with “namaste” once again.

“I appeal to my fellow countrymen to stay away from rumours regarding coronavirus,” Modi said. “We need to follow the advice of doctors in this regard,” he said.

Modi was interacting with owners of Jan Aushadhi Kendras and beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojna (PMBJP) through video conference.

A health ministry said the Centre had implemented pre-call awareness messages on BSNL and Reliance Jio connections to educate people regarding preventive measures.

Meanwhile, as a shortage of masks and sanitisers hits the market, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan called for strict action against those black marketing the masks.

“Strict action should be taken against those black marketing the masks,” Vardhan tweeted in Hindi.

As part of the preventive measures, as many as 6.5 lakh passengers have been screened at 30 Indian airports till now.

A global emergency

Since the first case cropped up in Wuhan, China, a couple of months ago, COVID-19 has infected thousands of people across the world.

The coronavirus has now spread to at least 85 countries and territories, infected more than 100,000 people, and claimed 3,300 lives, most of these in mainland China. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a “global emergency”.

As the human cost of the outbreak rises, so are the economic consequences.

With China central to a series of global supply chains, experts say the outbreak may cause the world’s GDP growth to stall for the first time in a decade and impact startup ecosystems.

People are staying indoors and stores are empty, with many shut down. The contagion has put the brakes on travel, leisure, and business, bringing movement of people and goods to a halt.  Business travel has stopped, which means fund-raising activity for Indian startups may slump.

(Additional information has been added to this report for context.)