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India to impose nationwide lockdown from midnight, Modi says

  • Archana Chaudhary

    Bloomberg

New Delhi   /   Tue, March 24, 2020   /   10:21 pm
India to impose nationwide lockdown from midnight, Modi says Police detain a youth as he argues with them after they cleared the site of the longest-running protest against a new citizenship law following the lockdown by Delhi state government to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease, in Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi, India, March 24, 2020. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a three-week long nationwide lockdown across India to help contain the spread of coronavirus infections, allocating an extra $1.97 billion for health care.

“If we listen to the health experts we know that 21 days are crucial to break the cycle of transmission,” Modi said in his televised address to the nation on Thursday. “For a few days forget what it means to go out. Today’s decision of a nationwide lockdown draws a line outside your home.”

India is struggling to contain the economic and health fallout of the spreading coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected 519 in India and killed 10 people.

India’s rupee weakened offshore during Modi’s address, which was after local markets had shut. The one-month non-deliverable forward was trading at 77.63 a dollar, versus 77.32 before the speech. The SGX Nifty Futures for March delivery slumped more than 3%.

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.

The biggest challenge for Modi will be to curb the spread of the virus in a country of 1.3 billion and shield an economy that’s set to expand at the slowest pace in more than a decade. But experts say the country could be on the same trajectory as Italy, where the outbreak quickly escalated, causing hospitals to overflow.

The fiscal measures come at a time when the government’s income is already under pressure with falling tax collections. Global economic uncertainty is expected to derail plans to sell state-owned companies and supply chain disruptions may affect trade.

Oxford Economics has slashed India’s growth forecast for the first quarter of 2020 to 3%, a number not seen even during the worst of the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the central bank last week announced measures to boost liquidity while holding back from following global peers with a rate cut.


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak