In his second address to the nation on the pandemic raging across much of the world with the number of infections rising in India, Modi made a fervent appeal to the countrymen not to cross the "lakshman rekha" of their homes in the next three weeks.
India has detected 485 cases of the coronavirus, and nine people have died from the COVID-19 disease it causes, but alarm is growing across the region about the prospect of it spreading into impoverished communities and the ability of resource-starved public health sectors to cope.
More than 1.8 million people across the country are being monitored because they have shown symptoms of the illness, travelled from overseas or been exposed to confirmed cases.
Modi said if the outbreak was not dealt with properly it could set the country back decades.
Modi also declared a 21-day complete lockdown from tonight.
The lockdown measures brought in by Modi were in line with what experts have recommended as necessary for India, though it remains unclear how they will be enforced in a democracy of more than a billion people.
He said that experts say that if today any person has been infected with Covid-19, then it will take some days to show its symptom.
"When wider sections of people start getting affected, we will see a spike in hospitalization". He asked people to take care of themselves and their family. "In 10 days, it can reach hundreds from one person", Modi said, ostensibly quoting World Health Organization statistics.
Rail travel has already been suspended after thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, swarmed train stations to go home as businesses shut down.
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You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. The group said it planned to supply 1.2 million meals to these groups in the coming months. "A step outside can draw the pandemic to your house", he added, citing examples of how "a few countries" have been able to shed the pandemic's effects by imposing strict lockdowns.
After his televised address, the prime minister took to social media to reassure his 54 million followers, tweeting: "My fellow citizens, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC". "If the virus is not contained, Mumbai is a volcano waiting to erupt".
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