Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India asks 1.3billion people to stay at home from midnight today

India on Tuesday announced a 21-day lockdown of the entire country of 1.3 billion people to halt the spread of coronavirus in the world’s second most populous country.

Health researchers have warned that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May.

This prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to shut down all air and train travel, businesses and schools.

On Tuesday, Modi ramped up measures by ordering the lockdown, with effect from midnight Tuesday.

It was his second address to the nation in a week.

He addressed the Indian nation on the risks to the country’s people from the virus that emerged in China late last year and has spread to 194 countries.

India has found 482 cases of the coronavirus and nine people have died from the COVID-19 disease it causes.

He said the shutdown was a necessary measure in battling an unprecedented health crisis.

A deserted street in India

“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said in the televised address.

“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown.”

“If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.”

Essential services will remain open throughout the lockdown, including hospitals and pharmacies.

The stay-at-home order exempted ssupermarkets, media, and certain other businesses.

Modi also pledged $2 billion to bolster the country’s struggling health care system.

Coronavirus has infected more than 377,300 people globally and 16,520 have died.