‘Peo­ple’s cur­few’ was only the start of a long bat­tle, says PM

The Guardian - - News | Coronaviru­s - Hannah El­lis-Petersen

In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion of more than 1.3 bil­lion was asked to ob­serve a “peo­ple’s cur­few” yes­ter­day to try to halt the spread of the coron­avirus, and a lock­down of large swathes of the coun­try was an­nounced for next week. As con­firmed cases of Covid-19 in In­dia rose to 396 and the death toll reached seven, usu­ally hec­tic city streets were de­serted and most busi­nesses closed from 7am to 9pm to com­ply with the vol­un­tary cur­few an­nounced by the prime min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi, last week.

“The cur­few will end at 9pm but it doesn’t mean we should start cel­e­brat­ing,” Modi said. “It’s the be­gin­ning of a long bat­tle. Peo­ple shouldn’t come out of houses in states which have an­nounced a lock­down. In the rest of the states, if it is not very im­por­tant, don’t come out of your houses.”

As the cur­few be­gan, there were an­nounce­ments of longer-term measures in­clud­ing the sus­pen­sion of In­dia’s rail­way sys­tem, which in nor­mal times car­ries 23 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a day.

The cap­i­tal, Delhi, which has re­ported six cases of coron­avirus passed by lo­cal trans­mis­sion, an­nounced a dra­co­nian lock­down be­gin­ning at 6am to­day. The city’s bor­ders will be closed to all but food, wa­ter and fuel sup­plies, pub­lic trans­port will be shut, taxis and rick­shaws will be kept off the roads and an or­der has been im­posed pre­vent­ing gath­er­ings of more than four peo­ple. Homes of peo­ple in­structed to go into quar­an­tine have been marked with stick­ers in an ef­fort to stop them go­ing out­side.

The num­ber of coron­avirus cases in In­dia was up by 113 yes­ter­day, the steep­est in­crease in a sin­gle day.

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