Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Tuesday a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the largest restriction on the movement of people the world has seen.
Mr. Modi said in a televised address that there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. He said that the strict lockdown was necessary to “save India and every Indian.”
The restrictions came into force at midnight local time (18:30 GMT) and will be enforced for 21 days.
The prime minister said the curfew would be enforced for the next 21 days, as health experts had advised this was the most important period to counteract the spread of the coronavirus.
Nearly 400,000 people have tested positive for the virus worldwide, and around 17,000 have died.
Prime Minister Modi also pledged a budget of $2 billion to be used to help treat this pandemic.
Already, a lockdown was in effect in several Indian states and cities, including the capital of Delhi, but the new measures announced mark perhaps the most sweeping restriction to ordinary life seen in any country since the coronavirus outbreak began.
He appealed for people not to panic – but crowds quickly mobbed stores in the capital, Delhi, and other cities.
Correspondents say it is not clear how – or even if – people will now be allowed out to buy food and other essentials.
The new measures follow a sharp increase in cases in recent days. There have been 519 confirmed cases across India and 10 reported deaths.
India – which has a population of 1.3bn – joins a growing list of countries that have imposed similar measures.