India goes under 14-hour lockdown to curb coronavirus spread

A view shows empty roads during a 14-hour long curfew to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, in Ahmedabad
A view shows empty roads during a 14-hour long curfew to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, in Ahmedabad, India, March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Hundreds of millions of Indians stayed indoors on Sunday, heeding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to citizens to self-isolate as authorities battled to contain the fast-spreading epidemic.

At least 324 people have so far contracted the disease and four deaths were reported in India due to coronavirus, according to official data on Sunday.

While the curfew is voluntary and is not an outright ban on the movement of people, Modi’s national appeal for social distancing has helped dramatically reduce the number of people taking to India’s densely crowded streets.

Experts have warned that the country’s cases are growing at rates seen during the early stages of the outbreak in other countries, which subsequently reported exponential increases in infections.

With over 1.3 billion people, India is trying to battle a pandemic with limited resources.

Minutes before the self-imposed curfew kicked in, Modi said the curbs would help authorities better fight the COVID-19 menace.

In India’s financial capital, Mumbai, where millions of people depend on urban rail systems, only workers involved in essential services were allowed to travel on truncated services.

Modi has requested citizens to stand at balconies and near windows on Sunday evening to clap and ring bells to praise emergency personnel and sanitation workers who are at the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

India has cancelled most entry visas for people flying in from other countries.

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