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Last week, India instituted a three-week nation-wide lockdown on the second-largest population on the planet. The measure was heavily criticized for how sudden it was, made without much preparation or warning.
The prime minister spoke during his weekly radio address, saying that there was “no other way” to stop the rapid spread of the virus.
“Especially when I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel that they must be thinking, what kind of prime minister is this who has placed us in this difficulty?” Modi said. “I especially seek their forgiveness.”
Modi had previously called for a 14-hour voluntary curfew last Sunday, followed by suspending train services, which stranded thousands of migrant workers who were attempting to return to their villages.
“Possibly many would be angry at me for being locked in their homes,” Modi said.
“I understand your troubles but there is no other way to wage war against coronavirus… it is a battle of life and death and we have to win it.”
India announced a $22 billion bailout for the country’s poor last week, including free food and cash handouts, but many are concerned that the bailout will not reach those who need it most.
India currently has 1,024 confirmed cases and 27 deaths, but the testing rate of the country is one of the lowest in the world.
The lack of widespread testing has caused experts to worry that the real number of infections could be far higher.