Wednesday 25 March 2020 3:42 AM UTC
NEW DELHI March 25: India has mounted the largest attempted lockdown yet in the coronavirus crisis, ordering 1.3 billion people to stay at home from midnight for three weeks to prevent a public health disaster.
In a televised address on Tuesday night, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced that for the next 21 days, almost one fifth of the world’s population should “forget what going out means”.
“From 12 midnight today, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown to save India and for every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” said Modi. “Therefore, I request you to remain wherever you are in this country.”
Related: India suspends domestic flights as coronavirus spreads
So far India has had a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, with 469 infections and 10 deaths so far, and the government had already introduced stringent measures to try to halt local transmission in a country where millions live in densely populated conditions with terrible sanitation and limited healthcare access.
There are currently only 40,000 ventilators in India, one isolation bed per 84,000 people and one doctor per 11,600 Indians.
More than 1.8 million people across the country are being monitored because they have shown symptoms of the illness, travelled from abroad or been exposed to confirmed cases.
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