Amid rising cases of COVID-19, India has become the next country to impose a nationwide lockdown. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed the restrictions midnight local time, which is set to last for 21 days. Previously, India banned all international arrivals and suspended domestic flights.
Unlike in other countries, India’s move is a “total lockdown.” In a televised address, Modi stressed that this includes a “total ban on venturing out of your homes.” All businesses considered non-essential were ordered closed, as well as schools and universities. The lockdown also implements a ban on nearly all public gatherings. Hospitals and medical facilities will remain in operation.
In the same televised address, Modi emphasised the need for a lockdown to break the chain of infections, saying that “social distancing [is] the only way to stop” the virus. He also announced the allocation of almost $2 billion for the country’s health infrastructure.
It has not been made clear if and how people will be allowed to head out to purchase food or essentials in the country with a population of 1.3 billion. That lack of clarity spurred panic despite Modi’s call for calm. In the cities of Delhi and Mumbai, crowds swamped different pharmacies and shops out of fear of shortages.
As of 25 March, India’s Ministry of Health has recorded 519 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Ten have died while 39 have recovered.