Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the country will go into complete lockdown for a period of 21 days beginning on Wednesday after midnight.
“If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days, we will be pushed back 21 years,” Modi said.
The country had been in a partial lockdown for several days, with the so-called ‘janta curfew’ imposed throughout the country to restrict the freedom of movement in the hopes of stemming the tide of infection, but Modi announced the decision to extend both the scale and length of the lockdown in a televised address on Tuesday.
Modi’s government also shut down all air and train travel, in addition to closing the majority of businesses and all schools and academic institutions.
At present, India has recorded over 519 cases of coronavirus infection with some 10 deaths so far.
Modi described the Covid-19 pandemic as a “major disaster” while praising Indians for their adherence to the pre-existing self-curfew.
He also highlighted the alarming increase in the rate of infection across the world and the need for “extreme measures” to tackle the crisis head on – even at the cost of significant damage to the Indian economy.
“Certainly, the country will have to bear the economic cost of this lockdown. But [the] government’s priority is to save the life of every Indian at this time,” Modi said.