UPDATED - With little information about how bad the coronavirus situation is across the country – but based on considerable fear of what might be ahead, India has locked down the entire country of 1.3 billion
Image: Night Lantern, CC
Update as of late March 24, 2020, India time: Since this article was first written, Prime Minister Modi announced that he was directing a complete lockdown on all residents in the country for a period of three weeks. The lockdown requires residents to stay indoors other than to go out to get food, medicines, or medical care. No lingering on the street or visiting neighbors will be allowed. The lockdown will last 21 days. This is a developing story.
The lockdown began two days ago and is intended to last one week.
It covers 75 separate districts across the country, including most of the major metropolitan areas. The full list is below:
Delhi: Central, East Delhi, North Delhi, North West Delhi, North East Delhi, South Delhi and West Delhi
Gujarat: Kutchh, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad
Haryana: Faridabad, Sonepat, Panchkula, Panipat and Gurugram
Himachal Pradesh: Kangra Jammu & Kashmir: Srinagar and Jammu
Karnataka: Bangalore, Chikkaballapura, Mysore, Kodagu and Kalaburgi, Bangalore rural, Mangalore.
Kerala: Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kannur, Kasargod, Kottayam, Mallapuram, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur
Ladakh: Kargil and Leh
Madhya Pradesh: Jabalpur
Maharashtra: Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Mumbai Sub-Urb, Pune, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane and Yavatmal
Punjab: Hoshiarpur, SAS Nagar and SBS Nagar
Rajasthan: Bilwara, Jhunjhunu, Sikar and Jaipur
Tamil Nadu: Chennai, Erode and Kanchipurum
Telangana: Bhadradri Kothagudam, Hyderabad, Medchai, Ranga reddy and Sanga Reddy
Uttar Pradesh: Agra, GB Nagar, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Lakhimpur Kheri and Lucknow
West Bengal: Kolkata and North 24 Parganas
Within the above regions people are blocked from leaving their homes except in case of emergency or purchasing items such as medicine or food. Those who violate the ordnance will be punished and/or arrested.
In New Delhi, another step was taken by the Aam Aadmi Party-led government (AAP). It has started a program of putting red and green stickers for those under home quarantine.
The AAP is also committed to provide approximately 7.2 million of the poor in Delhi with free food rations. An estimated 850,000 in the region will also receive a monthly allowance for basic expenses.
The homeless in the area are also being provided with two free meals a day. Those meals will be distributed in shelters.
The governments of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have also joined in offering similar programs in their areas.
In addition to these regions, the northeastern state of Sikkim plans to start a new phase of lockdowns beginning March 25. Private businesses, schools and virtually everything but government-related activities, groceries, and access to medical care will be closed as of that time. There are exceptions for news and social media, and emergency services.
These actions come on top of the cancellation this weekend of all trains operated by Indian Railways. The purpose of that was to keep migrant workers from bringing the virus back to their home regions.
Inter-state bus services have also stopped.
The country also previously implemented an order blocking all international flights either departing from or entering India through March 31. Domestic air travel will be shut down as of March 25.
India’s total case count as of March 23, 2020 was 468 infected, 34 recovered and 9 deaths.
With the country having conducted only a total of around 15,000 tests across the nation of 1.37 billion people, most experts believe the real total number of cases is far higher than what has been made official. A study which just came out ono March 23 suggested there could be somewhere between 100,000 and up to 1.3 million confirmed cases already present in the country.
The justification for the severe crackdown was both to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus as well as because of the already overloaded health care system in most areas. In Jammu and Kashmir, for example, a state located in the northwestern part of the country, there are only 93 ventilators for a total population of seven million.
So far, most shutdowns are up for review as of March 31. That date will likely be extended if the case count spirals anywhere near as high as the projections suggest.