India will lock down from midnight for three weeks to stop the coronavirus, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, warning that failure to stay indoors may destroy the nation.
"Forget about stepping outside for 21 days. Today’s decision of a nationwide lockdown draws a line outside your home,” said Modi in a televised speech noting the “careless irresponsibility” during restrictions announced since last week in some 30 states and union territories.
"If we don't handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years," he said.
India is struggling to contain the economic and health fallout of the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected 519 in India and killed 10 people.
In the last week, the government has implemented a near complete lockdown of its major cities and suspended train, flight and long distance bus services. Modi said in his address governments would take steps to ensure the supply of essential items, and asked states to prioritize saving lives.