Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered citizens not to leave their homes starting at midnight local time to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“To save India, every citizen of India is being banned from 12 o'clock tonight, on exiting homes, completely,” Modi said in a series of tweets Tuesday.
The shutdown will be enforced for the next 21 days, Modi said. Like many other large countries, provinces in India have enacted varying levels of lockdowns and curfews.
As U.S. health officials have also noted, Modi said that the lockdown is an effort to ensure the country's limited medical resources do not run out during the pandemic.
“Some people are under the misconception that social distancing is only necessary for sick people. It is not right to think. Social distancing is for every citizen, for every family, for every member of the family,” he tweeted.
Modi noted that the lockdown will not come without economic consequences.
“Certainly, the country will have to bear the economic cost of this lockdown,” he said.
Last week, India suspended all tourist visas and advised Indian citizens to avoid nonessential travel. The country's health ministry also informed citizens that they would potentially be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
As of Tuesday, India has just over 500 confirmed cases of the virus, compared to more than 46,000 cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.