India under total virus lockdown

India is one of the world's most populous countries, with at least one billion people. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. There have been 519 confirmed cases across India and 10 reported deaths.

NEW DELHI - India's 1.3 billion people went under "total lockdown" for 21 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

"From 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.

"To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family... every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown."

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India has lagged behind other nations in the number of COVID-19 cases, but there has been a sharp increase in recent days to 519 infections, including 10 deaths, according to the government.

A raft of lockdown measures had already been brought in by individual states and territories -- including sealing borders and restricting movement to only essential services -- in a bid to prevent an explosion of cases that could overwhelm the fragile public health system.

Modi warned that Indians had to observe the lockdown if they wanted to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

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"This is a curfew... We will have to pay economic cost of this, but to save every family member, this is the responsibility of everyone -- the biggest priority," the prime minister added.

"If these 21 days are not managed, the country and your family will go back 21 years... I am not saying this as your prime minister, I am saying it as your fellow citizen, family member."

Under the order, people could face up to two years in jail and an unspecified financial penalty if they flout the rules.