India announces $23 billion COVID-19 package; offers cash, free food

Police personnel patrol on a street during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Amritsar

Police personnel patrol on a street during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Amritsar

The toll in the coronavirus pandemic rose to 16 in India on Thursday, as seven more people died. "But this is nothing compared to the devastation that this virus will cause to our country if its growth is left unchecked". Modi was interacting with the people of his constituency in Varanasi while addressing the nation as well.

At the meeting, the G20 leaders agreed to take all necessary measures to contain the pandemic and protect people.

"We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the foot soldiers and the PM is the Commander".

Japanese brokerage Nomura said the economic package, which amounts to 0.8% of India's gross domestic product, is important from the standpoint of social welfare but does not address the cash flow challenges faced by small and medium enterprises and other hard-hit sectors such as aviation, hotels and tourism. The finance minister announced medical insurance of Rs 50 lakh each for "our warriors - doctors, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare workers" who are on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19.

The External Affairs Ministry said Modi underscored the need for free and open sharing of the benefits of medical research and development and sought developing an adaptive, responsive and humane health care systems.

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"Healthcare professionals working in white uniforms in hospitals are like God". Civil society members are working day and night to help the poor. He also cautioned against any taking medication based on hearsay and superstition. I request people to understand the facts and not believe in rumours.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly made an emotional appeal to the people about social distancing, helping the poor and financially weaker section by not cutting their salaries or providing them with food".

The powerful grouping of world's 20 major industrialised nations at its meeting made a decision to inject over United States dollars 5 trillion into the global economy to counter the social and economic impact of COVID-19.

Responding to a question about the three-week lockdown's impact on the poor and day labourers, Modi urged each well-to-do family to take a pledge to support nine poor families.

The Modi government at the center may announce an economic stimulus package of 1.5 lakh crore rupees between the fight against Coronavirus.

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