Coronavirus: A third of the world under lockdown, as Olympics delayed

2020-03-25 05:27
File photo - South Africans begin panic buying after a three-week shutdown was announced.

File photo - South Africans begin panic buying after a three-week shutdown was announced.

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Global giant India joined the countries ordering their citizens to stay at home on Tuesday, putting a third of the world on lockdown as the coronavirus epidemic forced Japan to postpone the Olympics.

About 2.6 billion people across the world are in lockdown, as the world grapples with the coronavirus. 

Despite warnings from the United States and Europe that the unprecedented shutdown is pushing the world economy towards collapse, more governments are opting to stop potential virus-carriers going out and about.

And just as China, where the new strain emerged last year, began to loosen some restrictions, neighbouring India ordered its 1.3 billion people - the world's second biggest population - to stay at home.

Modi spoke as the epidemic continued to ravage the global economy and cut a swathe through the world's sporting, cultural and social agenda, forcing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be pushed back to next year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to sound an optimistic note, vowing the delayed sporting extravaganza would be "a testament to mankind's defeat of the new virus".

'You can destroy a country'

Across the planet, the grim Covid-19 toll continued to mount, with close to 17 000 fatalities and almost 390 000 declared infections - including more than 200 000 in Europe alone, according to an AFP tally.

Many governments are listening to health experts who warn the only way to slow the epidemic - and save the lives of the elderly and vulnerable - is by imposing "social isolation" measures on a population.

But US President Donald Trump, for one, is not convinced the move is worth the enormous economic cost of sending workers home and closing "non-essential businesses" - perhaps for weeks or months.

"A lot of people agree with me. Our country - it's not built to shut down," Trump told Fox News. "You can destroy a country this way by closing it down."


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