Millions in India under coronavirus lockdown

NEW DELHI (AA): More than half of India’s 1.3 billion population is under complete lockdown, as the coronavirus or COVID-19 cases on Tuesday surged to 511 with 10 deaths.

As many as 75 districts including national capital Delhi and commercial hub Mumbai are under lockdown till March 31.

The government had to enforce curfew in many places as people did not observe voluntary isolation.

In a statement issued late on Monday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamented that people were not taking the lockdown seriously. Taking to Twitter, he asked people to save their lives and of their family members by remaining indoors.

“He [prime minister] has requested the state governments to make people adhere to the lockdown, “said the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Last Sunday, after observing civil curfew for a day, on Modi’s call people came out on their balconies to clap and beat drums to express their gratitude to health workers providing services during the pandemic.

But at many places people hit roads, bursting crackers and took out processions, thus exacerbating the situation.

A strict curfew has been imposed in 75 districts spread over 12 states including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerela, and Madhya Pradesh. Only essential services have been allowed to operate in these regions.

The government also announced the suspension of the domestic flights bringing the nation to a grinding halt.

“The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations with effect from the midnight 23.59 IST (0729 GMT) on March 24. Airlines have to plan operations to land at their destination before this time. The restrictions shall not apply to cargo-carrying flights,” said a release issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Indian Railways – the backbone of India’s connectivity which transports 23 million passengers daily – had already suspended its operation from Sunday. Metro train services suspended in all major cities were also suspended.

The Election Commission of India on Tuesday decided to defer the Rajya Sabha elections (Upper House) scheduled to take place on March 26.

The novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 169 countries and territories. The WHO has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has reached 392,331. The death toll has also reached to 17,156 387, according to the data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.