India Prime Minister Modi Orders Lockdown for Entire Country

Narenda Modi says social distancing is the only way out of the pandemic for his nation.
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India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi Tuesday declared a lockdown of the entire nation of 1.3 billion people, ordering residents to stay inside their homes for three weeks to combat the coronavirus.

While the number of Indians infected is low at this point - 519, of whom 10 died, according to Johns Hopkins University - the worry is that the virus could easily spread through the country’s densely populated cities.

On Monday, the government grounded all domestic flights in the world’s second most populous country.

But now it’s going far beyond that. “There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes,’‘ Modi said in a televised address to the nation, according to The New York Times.

“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown. If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.” Social distancing is the only way out of the pandemic, he said.

It’s unclear how Indians will get food and medicine though Modi vaguely indicated government and civil society groups would help. He allocated an extra $1.97 billion for healthcare to fight the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.

India’s stock market and rupee currency have been hammered during the financial turmoil of the last few weeks. India’s S&P BSE 100 stock Index has plunged 36% since Feb. 19. And the dollar has jumped 20% against the rupee during that period.

In the U.S., multiple states have implemented lockdowns varying in severity. But a nationwide lockdown is highly unlikely, given President Trump’s desire to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions in three to four weeks.