March 23, 2020 | Number of cases: 415 | Number of deaths: 8
Punjab has become the first state in the country to impose a statewide curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus disease, after it was noticed that citizens were continuing to come out on to streets in large numbers, defying lockdown orders.
India also saw its eighth casualty today after a 68-year-old man from Philippines died in a Mumbai hospital; the health ministry however did not term it a COVID death, as the man had tested negative after treatment for coronavirus. He had developed renal failure and respiratory issues.
The Prime Minister interacted with media via videoconference this morning and expressed deep concern over the fact that people were not taking the calls for isolation and lockdown seriously enough. The Centre directed state governments to enforce lockdowns and take legal action against those who violated the restrictions. Provisions of the Epidemics Diseases Act 1897 may be invoked to take action against people disobeying lockdown.
Yesterday, however, the Prime Minister’s call for a Janata Curfew had seen an overwhelming response from a majority, with most streets deserted and citizens choosing to stay at home. The call for curfew also saw citizens show their appreciation for frontline workers in the time of crisis with 5 minutes of clapping from their balconies. However, around evening, concerns had begun to emerge about whether the message of social distancing had been received well as sections of the public were found gathering in large numbers.
In response to the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, major restrictions and suspensions on transport services have been announced across the country. The Indian Railways suspended all passenger trains across the country until March 31. Metro rail services have been suspended in all states for the same duration. The local trains in Mumbai will see limited operations, only servicing those engaged in emergency and essential services.
Delhi has gone under total lockdown barring essential services with the suspension of inter-state transport, closing of borders with neighbouring states and limited availability of public transport. All non-essential services have been ordered to be shut until March 31. Even private vehicles have been barred from inter-state travel. Private taxis including ola and uber will be off the road. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will operate 25% of its fleet. Despite the near total shutdown, the Delhi airport will remain functional.
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