Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that as the lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus is slowly lifted, it is time for people to be even more careful. Modi made the remark in his monthly programme, Mann ki Baat.

The Centre announced on Saturday that hotels and restaurants, shopping malls and places of worship will reopen from June 8, in a phase of relaxation it called “Unlock 1”. Referring to this, Modi said: “Whether it is the rule of keeping ‘do gaj ki doori’ [physical distance of 6 feet] from each other, wearing masks, staying at home as much as possible, all these should be followed strictly.”

Modi said every Indian has contributed to the fight against the coronavirus. “The fight against Covid-19 is also being powered by the innovative spirit of our citizens,” he added. “They are innovating in a range of sectors.” He said the work being done in laboratories in India to find a vaccine for the coronavirus is being watched around the world.

However, he warned that there is a long road ahead to overcome the virus. “We have to keep in mind that the situation does not deteriorate in the coming times,” he said.

Modi said that the worst sufferers have been the migrant labourers and their families. “Their agony, their pain, their ordeal cannot be expressed in words,” he said. “Who amongst us cannot understand and feel what they and their families are going through! All of us are trying to share their distress; the torment...the entire country is doing that.”

The prime minister claimed that during the coronavirus pandemic, people from “Hollywood to Haridwar” have been “paying serious attention” to yoga. Mentioning that International Yoga Day was around the corner (June 21), Modi called yoga “good for community, immunity and unity”.

The prime minister said that as the novel coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, practicing yoga becomes even more important. “In yoga, there are many types of pranayama that strengthen the respiratory system;the beneficial effects of which we have been witnessing for long,” he said. “These are time tested techniques, which have their own distinct significance.” Modi mentioned various types of yogic exercises which could be beneficial in the current situation.

Modi also pitched for maintaining a clean environment as the lockdown is slowly lifted. He asked people to plant trees on the occasion of Environment Day on June 5. “For ensuring that the rivers remain clean, animals and birds have the right to live freely and the sky remains pollution free, we must derive inspiration to live life in harmony with nature,” he said.

While the Centre has significantly eased restrictions it had first imposed on March 25, states have been allowed to set their own rules, depending upon the extent of the spread of the infection. However, a complete lockdown will continue in all containment zones till June 30.

By Sunday morning, India had reported 1,82,143 infections, including 5,164 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The country is now the ninth most-affected in the world.

Follow today’s live updates on Covid-19 here