Coronavirus: India to implement nationwide lockdown for 1.3 billion citizens

24 March 2020, 15:29

Policeman in Prayagra, India
Policeman in Prayagra, India. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

India's prime minister Narendra Modi has announced a "total lockdown" in the country of 1.3 billion people during a televised address.

It is the most extensive stay-at-home order yet in the world's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The 21-day lockdown was set to begin at midnight tonight.

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"To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes," Mr Modi said.

He said that if the county failed to manage the next 21 days, it would be set back 21 years.

The lockdown will cover the country's 75 districts and is expected to be in place until March 31.

Indian health officials have reported 469 active cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 10 deaths.

India has 1.3 million citizens
India has 1.3 million citizens. Picture: PA

It comes just a day after the World Health Organisation said the coronavirus pandemic is "accelerating".

The global health body said it has now received more than 300,000 reports of Covid-19.

The WHO confirmed that the first 100,000 cases were reported in the first 67 days of the virus, the second 100,000 cases came 11 days later and the next 100,000 cases just came four days after that.

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that there were "alarming" reports of health workers getting sick.

He said he would be contacting the G20 heads of state to solve the global shortage of protective gear for health workers.

Addressing a press briefing in Geneva, Dr Ghebreyesus said: "More than 300,000 cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to WHO, from almost every country in the world.

"The pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,00 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 and just four days for the third 100,000.

"But we're not prisoners to statistics. We're not helpless bystanders.

"We can change the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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