India has just imposed the largest lockdown we’ve seen yet, forcing 1.3 billion people to stay indoors in the world’s second-largest country.
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.
Life in India will grind to a halt as all non-essential shops, offices, places of worship, factories, universities and schools will be closed, and all public gatherings will be banned. Public transport will also be suspended.
“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address.
“You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic.
“To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family… every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown.
“If we don’t handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years.”
By converging around shops, you are risking the spread of COVID-19.
No panic buying please.
Please stay indoors.
I repeat- Centre and State Governments will ensure all essentials are available. https://t.co/bX00az1h7l
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
Modi also pledged $2 billion to help the country’s healthcare system prepare for the virus. Currently in India, there is one doctor for every 11,600 people, and one isolation bed for every 84,000 people.
Critics of the lockdown have noted that it was used to disperse a long-running protest in Dehli against the country’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called “fundamentally discriminatory” against Muslims.
To date, India has had over 500 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 10 deaths.
Image: Getty Images / Hindustan Times