India Set to Shut Out Coronavirus With Total Lockdowns in 14 States, 80 Districts
Only essential services will operate in these areas, including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai, which have seen confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease. Thirteen states have separately announced similar measures.
Deserted streets are seen following a call for one day lockdown amid growing concerns of coronavirus, in New Delhi on March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
New Delhi: India is set to come to a screeching halt as authorities ordered passenger railway, metro and interstate bus services to be suspended across the nation till March 31 in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, which has led to seven documented deaths in the country so far and about 415 cases.
Only essential services will run in 80 districts, including big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai, which have seen confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease, the government said. A full list of all the 80 districts can be seen here, while you can read about all the restrictions imposed here.
Apart from the Centre's orders, 13 states also announced complete lockdowns till Sunday. They are Maharashtra, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Delhi, Nagaland, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. On Monday, Himachal Pradesh also announced an indefinite lockdown.
International flights have been banned for a week and many airlines have talked about trimming operations.
The raft of state shutdown measures came as the country observed a 14-hour voluntary 'Janata curfew' on Sunday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would test the country's ability to fight the pandemic.
"This is the start of a long fight," Modi tweeted Sunday as the curfew came to an end.
At least 81 new cases were reported across the country on Sunday, making it the largest single-day increase. Experts have said the number of cases mirror rates during the early stages of the outbreak in other countries, which then went on to see very rapid growth.
"The people of this country have announced it today that we can take on and defeat as big a challenge as possible if we decide," the PM said.
Normally bustling streets in the capital New Delhi and financial hub of Mumbai as well as elsewhere remained mostly deserted as many people stayed indoors from 7am to 9pm, and they collective cheered for healthcare and services-sector workers at 5pm.
But even before the appointed time, common citizens as well as public figures were out on balconies, rooftops and even the roads for several minutes, clapping, banging pots and pans, singing, ringing bells, blowing conches, playing music recordings, and even exploding firecrackers.
However, people were also seen travelling around in groups, hugging and celebrating in some parts after 5pm, despite prohibitory orders and advisories. Some even said on social media and WhatsApp posts that the positive energy from the cacophony would help push back the virus, though the government quickly put out messages on Twitter saying the display of gratitude would have no impact on the disease's spread.
Gujarat, Bihar and Maharahstra reported a death each on Sunday, while four deaths were earlier reported from Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab, the union health ministry said.
According to reports, Parliament will be adjourned on Monday after passing the finance bill, which would allow the government to pay salaries and bills after March 31 for the next financial year.
The global pandemic has forced lockdowns in 35 countries, disrupting lives, travel and businesses as governments scramble to shut borders and unleash hundreds of billions in emergency measures to avoid a widespread virus-fuelled economic meltdown.
Over 300,000 infections have been confirmed worldwide, with the situation increasingly grim in Italy where the death toll has spiked to more than 4,800, or more than a third of the global fatality count.
While the coronavirus can be deadly, particularly for the elderly and people with other health problems, for most it causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some feel no symptoms at all and the vast majority of people recover.
Healthcare experts have been making repeated appeals to the public to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene apart from advocating widespread testing.
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