This will be a kind of curfew for 21 days: Modi

A view shows empty roads during a 14-hour long curfew to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease in the country in Ahmedabad

A view shows empty roads during a 14-hour long curfew to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease in the country in Ahmedabad

Essential services, including groceries, pharmacies and medical services, will be available during the lockdown, with the local authorities asked to help with home deliveries.

This order is the largest lockdown to be issued so far, meaning that 2.6 billion people are now under some form of movement restriction around the globe, about a third of the world's population.

On Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a Cabinet Meeting while at the same time practicing social distancing amid coronavirus outbreak.

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"You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic". He added that "many families will be destroyed forever" if the country doesn't get a grip on the outbreak, CNN reports.

It has reported hundreds of confirmed cases of the virus so far - far less than other countries, such as China, Italy and the USA, which number their cases in the tens of thousands.

For weeks, while the coronavirus wracked neighbouring China and other parts of Asia, India's official infection toll stood at just three, all students in the Chinese epicentre, Wuhan, who were treated in their home state of Kerala and recovered from the disease. "The virus burnout will depend on how strict the social distancing is adopted at the community and household level".

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Two questions were hanging heavy on many Indians' minds after the Prime Minister's speech: why 21 days and will it be enough?

Police check documents of commuters during a lockdown in Prayagraj, India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown during an address to the nation yesterday.

The 21-day lockdown is set to begin at midnight in a measure which Modi says is intended "to save India and every Indian".

Under the precautionary measures to combat coronavirus, India on Sunday observed a "Janata curfew" during which people voluntary stayed inside their homes for 14 hours. One Hindu pilgrimage site in Jammu and Kashmir, the Vaishno Devi cave-shrine, which has 15,000-18,000 pilgrims on any given day, was among the religious sites ordered to shut down for the 21-day lockdown.

To a question on the harassment of doctors, nurses and other staff handling coronavirus patients, the Prime Minister said he felt pain. "Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this".

India's business capital Mumbai, the country's second-most populous city after Delhi, where many of India's wealthy reside along with Bollywood celebs, was also a virtual ghost town.

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