India has imposed a nationwide lockdown for 1.3 billion people in an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi made the announcement during a live televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening, saying the restrictions will apply from midnight local time (18:30 GMT) and will be enforced for 21 days and would apply to all of India’s 36 states and territories.
“From 12 midnight today [1830 GMT Tuesday], the entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown,”
“To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family… every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown,” he said, putting nearly one-fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.
“You have seen the worldwide situations arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic,”
Modi said that the measures are necessary to protect the population of 1.3bn people from the virus as he referred to experience from other countries.
“What the experts are saying is that social distancing is the only option to combat coronavirus. That is to remain apart from each other and stay confined to within your homes. There is no other way to remain safe from coronavirus. If we have to stop the spread, we have to break the cycle of infection,” he said.
He also stated that only essential services will be operational and these include water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries, and municipal services, but all shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be totally closed.
The country has confirmed 519 coronavirus cases, including 10 deaths and 39 patients who have been cured, according to the Ministry of Health.