In a move that incredibly affects almost one-fifth of the world's population, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi decreed that the country will undertake the world's largest lockdown beginning Wednesday and continuing for 21 days in order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
"From 12 midnight today, please listen carefully, from 12 midnight today the entire country will go under a complete lockdown," Modi said through a translation on his YouTube channel on Tuesday. "To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. Every state, every union territory, every district, every village and every locality is being put under a lockdown."
Modi's announcement apparently set off a chain reaction in the country of India, with the Associated Press (AP) reporting that people went into a "panic."
According to the AP:
The announcement set off panic in many neighborhoods as people rushed to markets to stock up on supplies. At many places, police tried to disperse crowds outside stores.
Indian health officials have reported 469 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 10 deaths. Officials have repeatedly insisted there is no evidence yet of localized spread but have conducted relatively scant testing for the disease. In a country where tens of millions live in dense urban areas with irregular access to clean water, experts have said local spreading is inevitable.
Despite the reported panic being felt by the Indian people following Modi's announcement, the Prime Minister stated during his address that "health experts" deemed a three week lockdown necessary in order for the virus to run its course or else it could set the country back decades.
"As per health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection," Modi said. "If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be set back by 21 years. If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever."
For Modi's full address, watch below:
If you'd rather watch Modi's comments specifically about the lockdown, watch below: