On Tuesday evening, India listened with baited breath as Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a virtual address. And with many convinced that he was going to impose a fresh lockdown, thousands stockpiled virtual grocery carts and headed towards checkout. Thus far however, there is no pan-India lockdown in place.
Soon after the Prime Minister's address, Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa revealed that over six lakh people had waited to ascertain whether the country would go back under lockdown, with carts ready to go. And while we're not certain that a digital shopping frenzy is better than emptying shelves at supermarkets, well, it is certainly safer for everyone involved.
"600,000+ Number of carts on Grofers created and waiting to check out if a lockdown was announced by the PM," Dhindsa tweeted on Tuesday evening. While no such announcement was ultimately made, it is unclear whether those with their fingers hovering over the checkout button were willing to abandon their cargo.
Over the last few days, the COVID-19 situation in the country has progressively worsened, with many facing a shortage of medical supplies and beds even as the daily case tally broke records. For a week now, the daily caseload has crossed the two lakh mark, with Wednesday's numbers brushing uncomfortably close to the three lakh mark. At the same time the daily death toll is also at a record high.
In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi said that there was a need to prevent the country from entering another lockdown. "I urge states to use lockdown only as a last resort," PM Modi said, adding that they should try their best to avoid lockdown, and focus on micro containment zones instead. He also urged people to come forward in this hour of crisis to help those in need, expressing appreciation for NGOs already working in this regard.