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‘Violators’ of lockdown shamed on news channels, all TV anchors plead, ‘stay home’

A quick take on what prime time TV news talked about.

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New Delhi: Most news channels Monday night discussed the fallout of the lockdown imposed across the country to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, just a day after the much publicised ‘janata curfew’.

With more than 400 active cases of COVID-19 in India, channels exhorted viewers to ‘stay home’ throughout the day. On Monday, the PM had also spoken to TV news channels via video conferencing on the need for responsible reporting.

Channels were awash with doctors who gave viewers necessary precautionary advice against the virus.

India Today discussed how the restrictions placed in over 22 states and union territories were part of a “prolonged lockdown” imposed on a country of more than a billion people, while other channels like Times Now, Republic TVNDTV 24×7, ABP News and Aaj Tak can down heavily on  the “violators” of the lockdown.

On India Today, anchor Rajdeep Sardesai discussed how some states were under a total lockdown, while in others the restrictions were in phases, except for those who were in essential services.

A ground reporter found that violators were disrupting strict rules, but the Delhi police “very politely” asked detractors to go back home.

Sardesai asked an important, hypothetical question — what if a senior citizen needed to go to the bank? India Today correspondent Preeti Choudhary said that for any such tasks, one could approach the police station and would then be redirected. She also added that the Delhi government has said it will take one’s word in cases such as these. The message of the government, said Sardesai, was “stay at home, stay safe”.

ABP News anchor Sumit Awasthi echoed Sardesai’s sentiment, but his style was completely different — “Agar ghar main zindagi, toh bahar kyun nikal rahe hain?” (If your life is at home, then why go out?) On his show ‘Bharat ki baat’, he discussed how people had violated the curfew without “fear and shame”. The special episode on violators included visuals of people on the streets of Delhi and Bihar, ringing bells, hitting bartans, boarding buses and crowding streets with the hashtag #stayhome. Awasthi wondered how after the “sannata” (silence) of yesterday’s curfew, so many people had descended on the streets. He declared that people were not taking the lockdown seriously.

Rohit Sardana, on Aaj Tak’s ‘Dangal’, also complained about the lockdown violators. He noted that the “chatpahat” (restlessness) of the people to return to their towns/villages was evident. He warned that if coronavirus reached its third stage, it would be hard to stop the infection. “If you mock the lockdown, how will we live corona-free?” he asked.

On NDTV 24×7, Vishnu Som conducted an exclusive interview  with Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain and asked him if he was disappointed with the people of Delhi. Jain calmly said that it was just the first day of the curfew, and many people might not have had complete information about the curfew. He added that this was an extreme and desperate measure, but we must consider ourselves lucky that the disease did not hit India earlier.

Jain said that the sudden spike in coronavirus cases in Italy and the US were alarming and India needed to learn from it. He warned that if this happened in India then “hamaare kaabu mein nahi hoga” (it will be beyond our control). In an emotional plea — “haath jod kar vinti” (request everyone with folded hands) — he requested citizens to stay home and practice social distancing.

On ET NOW, Dr. Arvind Kumar of Gangaram Hospital explained that the purpose of the lockdown was to stop the spread of the virus through cough droplets. He categorically stated that the most important challenge at the moment is to restrict the virus to the infected pool and prevent it from spreading further. And for this, a total lockdown was necessary.

With visuals of empty railway stations and streets of Mumbai, NDTV India commented on the “eerie silence” in the city post the lockdown. BBC News did the same, featuring visuals of silent streets, shuttered shops, with only the sound of birds chirping in cities across the country.

Moving away from India, BBC sports correspondent Katie Shanahan reported how for the first time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would reconsider hosting the 2020 Olympics after mounting resistance. Shanahan said that pressure had mounted against Japan and the International Olympic Committee, especially after Canada and Australia’s announcement that it would not be sending players for the games. Australia had also already told its athletes to prepare for the 2021 game. 

On NBC News, the highlight was the team of Cuban doctors who have joined Italy’s fight against the coronavirus. The coronavirus infection has exacted a heavy toll in the country with a total of 6,078 deaths from 63,928 infections and a fatality rate of more than 9 per cent — the highest in the world.

“We believe our Italian brothers are going through such a difficult time — the least we can do is come modestly to help them”, said one of the doctors who along with other medical professionals landed in Italy Sunday to aid the country’s fight against the deadly pandemic.

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