According to the statement, "All commercial and private establishments will be closed with the exception of shops, including ration shops (Under PDS) dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, and animal fodder."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the stringent measure as India is struggling to contain the outbreak that has so far infected 519 people and killed 10. It said all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and having fever and cough will now be tested for COVID-19 infection.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India Wednesday evening rose to 606.
WHO Representative to India Henk Bekedam praised the country's response to the pandemic, describing it as "comprehensive and robust". "It is my plea to you, that while you are staying at home, you must think about and pray for the wellbeing of people who are fulfilling their duties, who are exposing themselves to great risk", he exhorted.
"You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic".
Almost 90 more coronavirus positive cases were reported in India taking the total number of cases to 606 on Wednesday while the number of deaths was 10, according to health ministry data. Of the two, only Italy took several aggressive social distancing measures that seemed severe on paper.
"The virus is no doubt unsafe and it has killed so many people in the world, but it has also inculcated many good habits in us and brought the world closer". More than 1.8 million people across the country are being monitored because they have shown symptoms of the illness, travelled from overseas or been exposed to confirmed cases.
In a televised address on Tuesday night, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced that for the next 21 days, nearly one fifth of the world's population should "forget what going out means".
Experts and the experience of countries fighting the deadly virus make it clear that the social distancing is the only way to combat the disease, Modi said.
"If we don't handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years", he said.
Any negligence in these 21 days will "push the country and the citizens by 21years", he said underlining the massive danger the coronavirus poses. He continues to remain indoors at his home there, said an aide and had been holding conference calls and meetings over videoconferencing from his residence. "Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this".