Published: Wed, March 25, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

1.3 billion Indians ordered to stay home to fight coronavirus

1.3 billion Indians ordered to stay home to fight coronavirus

In his televised address to the nation, Modi said his government's priority is to save the life of every Indian.

Earlier in the day, Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman had announced a series of measures to deal with the economic crash as India, along with the rest of the world is battling to contain the virus.

For at least the next 21 days, no-one will be allowed to leave their home to socialise or work, except those working in "essential services" such as healthcare, law enforcement or the media.

As of right now, the lockdown will be enforced for 21 days.

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.

The entire country will be under lockdown from today.

He, however, said, "We are making efforts that there is no difficulty in daily life".

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India has found 482 cases of the coronavirus and nine 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.

"We are living in blissful ignorance", said one doctor at the hospital, who requested anonymity to protect her job.

"This complete lockdown might reduce the transmission significantly in the short run", said Dr. Yogesh Jain, a community doctor and founder of the People's Health Movement, a public health advocacy group in rural Chhattisgarh.

"I am not saying this as your prime minister, I am saying it as your fellow citizen, family member", Modi added. He said the central government plans to put almost $2 billion toward ramping up its health care infrastructure - including producing hospital beds, ventilators and other medical equipment.

As Indians rushed to grocery stores after his address, Modi asked citizens via Twitter to refrain from panic buying and stay indoors.

Streets were deserted in the national capital New Delhi and offices shut at the start of a lockdown to run till the end of the month. In next 11 days, 100,000 more were infected. Without a drastic improvement in that time, "the country and your family could go back 21 years [and] several families will get devastated forever". However, the call to applaud health workers and others at 5 pm on Sunday, March 22, flouted essential demands of social distancing for fighting the coronavirus spread.

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