All essential services will be available during lockdown: PM Modi

The 21-day lockdown is set to begin at midnight in a measure which Modi says is intended "to save India and every Indian". He added that we must remember that we will invite a grave pandemic like Coronavirus if we step outside our homes and come in contact with people.

If we don't handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years said the Indian Premier in his address to the nation.

As of last week, India had tested only 9.2 people per million, one of the lowest rates in the world.

A protest against the country's Citizenship Amendment Act at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh was cleared by the police on Tuesday after the government prohibited all public gatherings in the city.

Experts and the experience of countries fighting the deadly virus make it clear that the social distancing is the only way to combat the disease, PM asserted.

He had also asked Indians to observe "Janta Curfew", a self-imposed restraint measure by the people to keep themselves and others in the society safe.

Rupam Bhattacharya, a member of the Cov-Ind-19 study group of researchers at the University of MI that's looking specifically into the coronavirus outbreak in India, said: "This pandemic is growing quick, and the only way we can cope with it is by keeping up with its pace by bringing rapid and strict precautionary measures into action".

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"From 12 midnight today (1830 GMT Tuesday), the entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown", Modi said in a national television address to the world's second most-populous nation. I pray with folded hands to remain where ever you are for 21 days. Public utilities including Electricity Board, Public Works Department, Metro Water (TWAD Board), Water Supply, Sewerage and Municipal Services will be functional.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended.

He added that as per health experts, we need to break this chain of Coronavirus, for which this 21 days lockdown is very important.

The Himalayan nation said thousands of people, a lot of them Nepali migrant workers, had crossed into Nepal in recent days from India, believing their homeland to be safer.

He, however, said, "We are making efforts that there is no difficulty in daily life".

"For a few days, forget about venturing out". Many Indians were caught off-guard as lines formed outside grocery stores and social media lit up with questions over how people would get food, cash and other necessities.

  • Sonia Alvarado