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Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has imposed a nationwide lockdown in an effort to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. The lockdown came into force at midnight local time (18:30 GMT) and will be imposed for 21 days.
He appealed to people not to panic, however crowds quickly started to mob the grocery stores in the Delhi and other cities of the country. Correspondents stated that it is still not clear how people will be allowed to buy food and other essentials things.
The restrictions came into force due to a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in last few days. 519 confirmed COVID-19 cases are reported across India and 10 deaths. India has a population of 1.3 billion that joins the list of countries who have imposed similar measures.
Approximately 400,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus globally, and almost 17,000 have died.
Mr Modi has warned that if India does not manage these 21 days properly, then the country will go behind by 21 years.
Police in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, watched the streets with megaphones to inform residents to stay indoors.
All the non-essential trades will be closed however hospitals and other medical services will function normally. Schools and universities will remain closed and all public gatherings would be banned. Anyone violating the new rules can face up to 2 years in prison with heavy fines.
Prime Minister Modi also highlighted that the 21-day lockdown is very necessary to break the chain of coronavirus infection. Social distancing is the only way to stop the spread of the virus. His announcement came after several Indian states had already introduced actions of their own, such as travel restrictions and the shutdown of non-essential services.
India has already issued a ban on international arrivals and domestic flights and now the rail network has also been suspended for most passenger services.
Earlier one-day curfew, which was a trial, was broken by many. Mr Modi had called Indians to clap and applaud the emergency services from their balconies on Sunday. But many people misunderstood the call and gathered on the streets dancing and chanting.
Source: BBC News