Coronavirus updates: Panic buying in India as national lockdown begins

Clay Curtis
March 25, 2020

People watch Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak about coronavirus on TVs in Ahmedabad, India.

The ministry of home affairs said essential services including grocery stores, banks, ATMs and petrol stations will remain open.

In his address Tuesday, Modi said the government has allocated 150 billion rupees ($2 billion) for treating coronavirus patients and strengthening India's medical infrastructure.

Critics of the lockdown have noted that it was used to disperse a long-running protest in Dehli against the country's controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called "fundamentally discriminatory" against Muslims.

He, however, said, "We are making efforts that there is no difficulty in daily life. The complete lockdown will come into effect from midnight tonight", Modi said in his televised address to the nation.

"If we have to stop the spread of corona, we have to break the cycle of infection", Modi said in his Tuesday statement, before outlining the terms of India's new mandate.

Patient under age of 18 dies from virus in California
Unfortunately, it continues to spread, even as health and government officials urge people to stay inside of their homes. The unidentified minor was the first person under the age of 18 to die from coronavirus in the county.

"The only way to protect us from Coronavirus is not to cross the "Lakshman Rekha" of our homes", said the PM. "Jaan hain toh jahaan hain", he said about the voluntary lockdown on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned the number of cases will rise: "Make no mistake, this will get worse before it gets better".

The 21-day lockdown is set to begin at midnight in a measure which Modi says is intended "to save India and every Indian". This will go towards testing facilities, personal protective equipment, isolation beds, ICU beds, and ventilators, the Prime Minister said. The Arab world's most populous country, Egypt, as well as Syria, a country ravaged by nine years of war, became the latest countries to impose nightly curfews starting this week.

The PM had first officially addressed the nation on Thursday, briefing citizens about the pandemic and measures that they could take to prevent the spread of the outbreak in the country.

India has counted slightly more than 500 infections, but epidemiologists believe that many more cases of the coronavirus have gone unrecorded due to insufficient testing and the mass migration of laborers inside the country. "Stay at home. Do just one thing and stay at home", Modi urged more than 1 billion people. For the past two days, the country's many places have been lockdown.

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