India orders ‘complete’ coronavirus lockdown of 1.3 billion residents

Coronavirus
INDIA-HEALTH-VIRUS

A man walks on a deserted Rajpath leading to India Gate during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi on March 24, 2020. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a “complete” lockdown for India’s 1.3 billion people on Tuesday, warning that “many families will be destroyed forever” if the country didn’t get to grips with its coronavirus outbreak in the next three weeks.

Modi said the lockdown would start at midnight local time, would last for a minimum of 21 days, and would apply to all of India’s 36 states and territories.

“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 in a live televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening ahead of the deadline.

“The result of a two-month study of these countries and 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.

“Going by the experiences of health experts and other countries, the nation is going to take a very important decision today. From 12 midnight today, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown to save India and for every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. Therefore, I request you to remain wherever you are in this country,” Modi added.

Only essential services will be operational. These include water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended. Construction activity will also be on a halt during this period.

Modi said if the outbreak was not dealt with properly it could set the country back decades.

“According to health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection. If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be setback by 21 years. If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever,” Modi said.

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