Now, Modi and the central government are rolling out even more drastic rules - including the complete closure of commercial and private establishments, with few exceptions for services deemed essential.
India, the world's second-most populous nation with over 1.3 billion citizens, is going into a full lockdown, something that may seem unthinkable for such a massive region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that the Centre has tied up with WhatsApp to create a helpdesk to give credible information to the people on coronavirus. In India, cases number at 606 while the country reported its tenth fatality earlier this week.
People locked down in India applaud the country's healthcare workers.
WHO Representative to India Henk Bekedam praised the country's response to the pandemic, describing it as "comprehensive and robust". "If we are not able to manage for the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever". However, India has seen a spike in cases coinciding with outbreaks in different areas of the world that appeared to spiral out of control.
The lockdown's objective is to minimise the spread of the virus over the next 21 days, while health authorities continue to detect and isolate as many patients as they can. The Cabinet meeting held at Lok Kalyan Marg comes a day after PM Modi announced a complete lockdown across the country for the next three weeks and urged Indians to practice social distancing to combat coronavirus pandemic.
India's tally of 536 cases and 10 deaths is dwarfed by China, Italy and Spain, but Modi and health experts have warned that the nation of 1.3 billion people faces a tidal wave of infections if harsh steps are not taken. "Social distancing is for every citizen, for every family, for every member of the family", he said.
Police check documents of commuters during a lockdown in Prayagraj, India. Several Indian states had already ordered lockdowns. Talking about how health experts stated that 21 days are necessary to ensure breaking the chain transmission, he said these 21 days were most crucial. One rickshaw driver, who showed bruises on his calf, said he was defying the lockdown because he was unable to feed his four children otherwise. While Mr. Modi himself held a meeting of his Cabinet trying to maintain appropriate social distance, his colleague, Home Minister Amit Shah, is said to have cancelled all appointments with people other than Ministry related, and that too, only if the issue can not be resolved over the phone. Everything else will be closed, construction sites included, and buses and metros will be suspended.