Coronavirus: Donald Trump warns shutdown could 'destroy a country'

Amid social distancing and quarantine measures across much of the US, President Donald Trump says he would 'love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter'.

President Donald Trump insisted Tuesday that he wanted the coronavirus lockdown relaxed in the US by mid-April, warning that keeping the measures in place could "destroy" the country.

"A lot of people agree with me. Our country -- it's not built to shut down," he said on Fox News. "You can destroy a country this way by closing it down." "I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," Trump said. Easter is on April 12.

Social distancing and quarantine measures have been instituted across much of the US, bringing the world's biggest economy to an abrupt halt.

US President Donald Trump

Health experts have advised the measures are the only way to prevent the easily transmitted, potentially fatal illness from multiplying uncontrollably.

In the chat show format interview with Fox at the White House, Trump made it clear that he thought the shutdown has been an overreaction.

"We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don't turn the country off," Trump argued.

"We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn't call up the automobile companies to say, 'Stop making cars. We don't want any cars anymore'," he said.

With his November reelection campaign also on hold, Trump is eager to get back into the fray. One of his main claims to a second term, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was the strong economy and low unemployment.

"We can't lose a Boeing, we can't lose some of these companies," he said. "If we lose those companies we're talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of jobs."

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown across India for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing was the only way out for the country to fight a decisive battle against coronavirus outbreak.

The Centre and state governments have taken measures to ensure that the supply of all essential items continues smoothly, he said, seeking to allay apprehensions among people about availability of food and other essential provisions.

According to Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus cases has risen to 562.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)