New Delhi (CNB News) – India is to impose a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced. The restrictions will apply from midnight local time (18:30 GMT) and will be enforced for 21 days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a “complete” lockdown for India’s 1.3 billion people on Tuesday, warning that “many families will be destroyed forever” if the country didn’t get to grips with its coronavirus outbreak in the next three weeks.
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.
“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 in a live televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening ahead of the deadline.
India is the world’s second most populous country and the fifth biggest economy, but so far, it has appeared to avoid the full hit of the pandemic. The country has confirmed 519 coronavirus cases, including 10 deaths and 39 patients who have been cured, according to the Ministry of Health.
What’s the latest from around Asia?
- Neighbouring Pakistan has almost twice as many confirmed cases – 878 as of Monday evening. Sweeping restrictions are in place although the government has stopped short of imposing a nationwide lockdown. However, several provinces have announced them independently. The army is being brought in to help enforce the restrictions.
- Bangladesh, which has reported 33 cases and three deaths, is also deploying its armed forces to help maintain social distancing and boost Covid-19 preventive measures. The soldiers will also monitor thousands of quarantined expatriate returnees. Across South Asia, there are concerns that the actual number of cases could be much higher than is being reported.
- Indonesia, which has 49 confirmed Covid-19 deaths – the highest in South-East Asia – has converted an athlete’s village built for the 2018 Asian Games into a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients. A state of emergency was declared in Jakarta on Monday.
- Thailand, a month-long state of emergency which will include curfews and checkpoints will begin on Thursday. The government has been criticised for failing to take strong action so far. Four people have died and nearly 900 tested positive.
- Talks between the Japanese PM and the International Olympic Committee are expected this evening.
- The most populous country that was without a case until now – Myanmar – has announced two cases.