India ordered a 21-day lockdown of its 1.3 billion people on Tuesday to try to protect the world’s second most populous country from the coronavirus spreading around the world.
Health researchers have warned that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May, prompting the government to shut down all air and train travel, businesses and schools.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the powerful leader of the world’s biggest democracy went further, saying nobody in the world’s biggest democracy will be allowed to leave their homes for the next three weeks from midnight on Tuesday.
“The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don’t leave our homes, whatever happens, we stay at home,” Modi said in a second address in less than a week to try and rally around Indians behind the sweeping lockdown.
“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” he said, warning the country would be set back by decades if it didn’t shut down and fight the virus.
Scores of people turned up at shops in Delhi and Mumbai and elsewhere to buy essentials before the ban orders went into effect.
India has found 482 cases of the coronavirus and 10 people have died from the COVID-19 disease it causes but alarm is growing across the region about prospects for its spread into impoverished communities and the ability of resource-starved public health sectors to cope.