India orders 21-day lockdown

View over Old Delhi from minaret of Jama Masjid mosque

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown which started immediately on March 25 at the stroke of midnight.

The decision will require the suspension of all road, rail and air services, as the country makes a bigger effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.

View over Old Delhi from the minaret of Jama Masjid mosque

In a special televised address on Tuesday night, the prime minister said that even those nations with the best medical facilities could not contain the virus and that the social distancing is the only option to mitigate it.

Modi acknowledged that the lockdown would mean a hefty economic loss for the country but insisted that it was his priority to “save the life of each and every Indian”.

“Hence, It is my plea to you to continue staying wherever you are right now in the country,” he said.

According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the country has lost about 1.5 million foreign tourist arrivals for the months of March and April.

“Jobs and businesses are at stake. We, the inbound tour operators, are in serious trouble,” Arun Anand, managing director of Midtown Travels, told TTG Asia.

“We need to pay salaries to our staff despite having no business. Office rental and government taxes are making our lives more difficult,” he said.

With growing numbers of global infections, Arun is bracing for zero foreign arrivals to India for another seven to eight months.

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