Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation and said that though the lockdown had ended, the threat of the coronavirus was not yet over. “We have come a long way in our fight against Covid-19,” he said. Modi noted that with the upcoming festival season, people needed to remain vigilant.

India has maintained a good recovery rate and low fatality rate, we need to continue this, he said. “India is in a stable condition, must not let it deteriorate.”

“We can also see economic activity picking up. Many of us are going out to perform our responsibility. In the festival season, the markets are looking up. Lockdown may have gone but virus has not gone.... This is not the time to become irresponsible or believe that coronavirus has gone away.”

— Narendra Modi

This was Modi’s seventh address to the country, since he announced the implementation of the lockdown on March 24.

“In many countries we have seen that after a fall in cases, there was a resurgence,” Modi added. “We should continue to be careful and not be callous until a vaccine is created.” He said that the government has been working on a plan to make vaccine available to everyone.

Modi also said that the number of tests done in India will cross 10 crore soon. He also praised the health workers. “Our doctors and health workers have served such a huge population selflessly,” the prime minister said.

Modi said that he had come across videos showing people flouting safety norms. “If you are stepping out without a mask, you are endangering the children and the elderly in your family,” Modi said. The prime minister repeated that India cannot afford to let its guard down.

The prime minister emphasised that the fight against the coronavirus cannot slow down unless a vaccine is developed. “Several versions of vaccines are being developed in India as well,” Modi said. “Some of them are at advanced stage. The government is also working towards ensuring that the vaccine reaches every India as soon as possible.”

Modi said that even slight carelessness can sabotage India’s progress in battling the pandemic. “We are going through a difficult time, but we are moving forward, “ he said. “A little carelessness can stop our movement and spoil our happiness. Taking care of responsibilities and vigilance will go hand in hand.”

Covid-19 in India

India’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 75,97,063 on Tuesday with 46,790 new infections in 24 hours. This is the lowest single-day jump in fresh cases since the end of July. On July 23, India had recorded 45,720 cases in one day. The country’s toll, meanwhile, rose by 587 to 1,15,197.

On Saturday, Modi chaired a meeting on the coronavirus situation and arrangements for the delivery and distribution of a vaccine. He called for “speedy access” to the vaccine when it is ready, while also directing officials to keep in mind the “geographical span and diversity” of India in planning the logistics and delivery. The prime minister highlighted a steady decline in daily cases, growth rate and number of deaths over the last three weeks, but warned against any complacency.

A scientific committee appointed by the Centre on Sunday said the coronavirus pandemic has peaked in India, and predicted that it will end by February next year. The panel said the country is likely to have 10.6 million (106 lakh) active cases by then, and warned against complacency. Another central panel has said that by February, it is likely that 50% of Indians would have had Covid-19.

India saw a surge in the months of July and August. It is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread after mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record of 97,894. Experts, however, warn that festival season and the winter could worsen the health crisis.