Mar 24, 2020 - World

India announces nationwide lockdown to stop spread of coronavirus

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Paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a deserted street during Janta Curfew, Srinagar, India, March 22. Photo: Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Tuesday that the entire country will be locked down for three weeks beginning at midnight in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: With 1.3 billion people, India is the second-most populated country in the world. India currently has 519 confirmed cases.

Between the lines: Modi hopes to avoid a crisis on the scale of China's or Europe's, but his new measures will have a massive economic cost.

  • The prime minister ordered a trial run of a national lockdown on Sunday and had urged Indians to stay home when possible, knowing the country’s health care capacity lags far behind its population.
  • Modi has claimed that there are not yet signs of community spread, but experts caution that India is not testing enough people to know the true extent of the situation. About 15,000 tests had been conducted as of Tuesday, per CNN.

Go deeper: What world leaders are doing and saying about coronavirus.

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