Saturday 19 September 2020 - 7:46:22 am

India's homes go blackout to mark fight against COVID-19

NEW DELHI, 5th April, 2020 (WAM) -- Homes in the world’s second most populous nation were blacked out tonight for nine minutes from 9 pm in what has been the biggest mass mobilisation anywhere so far in spreading awareness about the COVID-19.

Indians, numbering 1.3 billion, spread across its far-flung and remote villages, towns and congested cities switched off lights in their homes and lit candles, flashed torches and switched on their mobile phones’ flashlight, responding to a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do so.

"I request all of you to switch off all the lights of your house on 5th April at 9 pm for 9 minutes, and just light a candle, earthen lamp, or mobile phone’s flashlight, to mark our fight against COVID-19," Modi had called upon the people in a video message two days ago.

"From time to time we recognise the strength of 1.3 billion people and that gives us strength in this fight against COVID-19. We have to take those who are the most affected by this crisis – the poor, the weaker sections – towards hope and light. This Sunday, April 5 at 9 pm, I want your 9 minutes," he said in an emotional appeal.

As of 12 noon GMT on Sunday, India recorded 3,577 COVID-19 cases, of which 83 persons have died while 274 people have been cured of the disease, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare here.

India is in a three-week lockdown until 14th April to slow the spread of COVID-19, but there have been instances of people not staying at home as mandated to avoid the spread of the virus. The lights-off plan was devised to spread awareness about the pandemic, especially among the very poor and the illiterate about the seriousness of the health challenge that India and the world are facing.

There were fears that if everyone switched off their lights at the same time in an unprecedented exercise, a surge in voltage due to a steep dip in demand could harm the national power grid and cause widespread electricity outages.

At the time of writing, however, there were no reports of any such calamity.

WAM/Hazem Hussein