Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday placed the entire India under a “complete lockdown” effective that midnight local time.
With a total population of 1.3 billion people, it was considered as the world’s largest lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family… every street, every neighborhood is being put under lockdown,” Modi said in a televised address.
The lockdown would apply to all the country’s 36 states and territories and would last for a minimum of 21 days.
Prior to this announcement, India has already banned both domestic and international travels. The new measures now order the shutdown of all non-essential businesses and allow only hospitals and medical facilities to continue to function as normal.
All public gatherings will be banned and classes in schools and universities will remain suspended.
“You have seen the worldwide situations arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic,” the Prime Minister added.
He appealed to his constituents not to panic and assured that supplies will be provided by the government.
According to reports, around $2bn (£1.8bn) will also be made available to boost the country’s health infrastructure.
Various moves to soften the virus’ economic impact were also made such as the extension for the deadlines to file tax returns and waiving of charges on minimum bank balances.
India, the world’s second most populous country and the fifth biggest economy, has recorded 657 cases of COVID-19 with 12 deaths and 43 recoveries as of March 25.