Coronavirus: Over one billion people locked in as Indians observe curfew

Narendra Modi, Indian PM

More than a billion people remained indoors in India on Sunday during a one-day nationwide curfew aimed at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus even as positive cases topped 300.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Thursday called for the “Janata Curfew” (Public Curfew in Hindi) or self-imposed quarantine from 7 a.m. (0130 GMT) to 9 p.m. (1530 GMT) to break the chain of infections as well as assess India’s ability to fight the pandemic.

“Let us all be part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the Covid-19 menace.

“The steps we take now will help us in the times to come.

“Stay indoors and stay healthy,” Modi tweeted moments ahead of the curfew.

A week-long ban on all international flights ordered by the government also came into effect on Sunday.

The curfew, one of the biggest national exercises in the world, was necessitated amid worries of possible community transmissions in India.

There are concerns that the number of cases may be far higher than reported in India, the second-most populous country with over 1.3 billion inhabitants.

The number of infections surged in the past few days to 315, with Satuday seeing the biggest single-day spike at 79, according to the federal Health Ministry.

Four people have died so far.

Television visuals showed deserted streets in the national capital New Delhi and metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Kolkata.

Only businesses and government establishments dealing in essential items and services will remain open.

Transportation, including rail and flights will be affected across the country.

Modi asked citizens to stand at the doors, windows and balconies at 5 p.m. and clap, clang utensils or ring bells to show support to those providing essential services. (dpa/NAN)