- India, the world’s second-most populous country after China, has gone into a complete lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Everything except for essential services, including health services and grocery stores, will be closed for a minimum of 21 days starting at midnight local time.
- India reported its first coronavirus case in late January. Currently, there are over 500 people infected in the country, according to official statistics.
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The total number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 400,000 worldwide on Tuesday, with the figure having doubled in just a week. The death toll has surpassed 17,000, and we’re probably going to see thousands of deaths in the coming weeks, as countries battle the horrific pandemic.
India, the world’s second-most populous country with more than 1.3 billion citizens, is going into a full lockdown, something that may seem unimaginable for such a massive region. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the complete lockdown, which will last for at least 21 days.
“You have seen the worldwide situations arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic,” Modi said during a live televised address on Tuesday evening. He added that “many families will be destroyed forever” if the country doesn’t get a grip on the outbreak, CNN reports.
India reported its first COVID-19 case in late January, and current figures say that only 517 people have been infected to date, including nine fatalities. But India has seen a spike in cases in early March, coinciding with outbreaks in other parts of the world that seemed to spiral out of control.
Italy, currently at over 69,000 cases, had over 1,000 cases in early March, while South Korea, now at over 9,000 cases, registered over 3,100 cases three weeks ago. While Korea managed to get the curve under control through aggressive testing, the number of cases soared in Italy. Of the two, only Italy took several aggressive social distancing measures that seemed severe on paper. Italy quarantined regions in the North, followed by the entire North and then the whole country, but the results aren’t there yet, as many people disobeyed the restrictions.
Comparatively, the US had 33 registered cases on March 1st, and the tally is at over 47,000 at the time of writing.
With all that in mind, India’s concern seems warranted, and a lockdown might be the only measure that could significantly slow down the disease in such a densely populated region. Several Indian states had already ordered lockdowns. Furthermore, international borders have been closed to most travelers from Europe.
“According to health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection,” Modi said. “If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be setback by 21 years. If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever.”
“What the experts are saying is that social distancing is the only option to combat coronavirus,” he added. “That is to remain apart from each other and stay confined to within your homes. There is no other way to remain safe from coronavirus. If we have to stop the spread, we have to break the cycle of infection.”
The country will be on lockdown from 12 midnight local time, the prime minister said. Only essential services will be operational, including water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries, and municipal services. Everything else will be closed, construction sites included, and buses and metros will be suspended.
The Indian government has also announced measures to help the population cope with the massive change in their daily lives. Deadlines for tax returns have been extended by three months, charges on minimum bank balances were waved alongside ATM fees. The threshold for invoking bankruptcy was raised to $131,000 from $1,300.