India has today announced a ‘total lockdown’ in the country of 1.3billion people in the largest stay-at-home order since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the ‘total ban on venturing out of your homes’ in a televised address today.
The 21-day lockdown is set to begin at midnight in a measure which Modi says is intended ‘to save India and every Indian’.
He said that if the country failed to manage the next 21 days, it would be set back 21 years.
India has so far reported 482 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nine deaths.
Health experts have warned that a big jump could be imminent, which would overwhelm the country’s underfunded public health infrastructure.
On Monday, India confirmed two more deaths. One was a 54-year-old man with no history of foreign travel, suggesting the start of community transmission of the virus, officials said.
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.
The government ordered commercial airlines to shut down domestic operations from midnight on Tuesday on top of a ban on international flights to try and contain the coronavirus. About 144million people traveled on domestic flights last year.
Rail travel has already been suspended after thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, swarmed train stations to go home as businesses shut down.
Before Modi’s announcement today, officials had warned that people were not obeying government warnings to stay indoors.
Nepal has ordered all land border crossings with India and China shut until March 29 in order to keep the contagion at bay.
The Himalayan nation said thousands of people, most of them Nepali migrant workers, had crossed into Nepal in recent days from India, believing their homeland to be safer.
Nepal reported its second case of the coronavirus on Monday, a citizen who had recently returned from France.