onsdag 25. mars 2020

India: Why do you lock down 1.3bn people?

India has asked 1.3 billion people to stay at home for three weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It's an unprecedented lockdown in a country that has reported 519 confirmed cases and 10 deaths so far from the virus. But the government is clearly bracing for the worst - one chilling projection says India could be dealing with about 300 million cases, of which four to five million could be severe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "total lockdown" was to ''save India, to save its citizens, your family". Why India requires a "hard" lockdown to fight the virus has much to do with how crowded and densely packed a country it is. Both its public and private spaces are crowded. "The population density and the large number of poor people make it very vulnerable for the easy spread of such an easily transmissible disease," says political scientist Rahul Verma.

With 450 people per square kilometre, India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Some of the poor northern Indian states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have almost twice as many people per sq km.