The Indian government on Sunday decided to completely shut down 75 districts across the country where COVID-19 cases have been reported. Railway, metro, and interstate bus services too have been suspended till 31st March, in order to stop the march of the virus.

Five major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Chennai are locked down till the end of the month. In addition to these cities other districts in the states of Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Chandigarh, West Bengal, Puducherry and Uttarakhand are in lockdown till March 31st.

The decision to shut down the states was taken at a high-level meeting attended by chief secretaries of all states, the cabinet secretary and the principal secretary to the prime minister, the Economic Times reported.

State governments have issued orders which allow only essential services to operate in these 75 districts. Section 144, which when exercised prohibits four or more people to assemble in an area, too has been imposed in several parts of the country. During the lockdown, only police, health, fire and other department vehicles will be allowed to ply on the roads. Private vehicles, cabs, taxis, etc will be banned. Borders are sealed and international flights to the country have also been suspended till the end of the month.

The state governments have shut down public spaces, private employees have been asked to work-from-home, schools, malls, cinema halls, pubs, gymnasiums, etc. have been shut down to contain the spread.

Aggressive screening of inbound passengers, the first carriers of the virus is being done rigorously. In order to avoid community spread, people are asked to practice social distancing at all times. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is carrying out random tests for evidence of community spread.

The shutdown has forced automakers and manufacturing industries to shut down their operations. The rupee tumbled to a new low and stocks continued to decline after the lockdown brought Mumbai, the country's financial capital to a grinding halt with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

India’s official tally of COVID-19 cases has reached 396. 7 deaths were reported that were caused due to the virus.

Even though aggressive action has been taken, authorities have blamed the behavior of certain individuals who broke the quarantine protocols and hid their travel histories and put a large section of the population at risk of contracting the fast-spreading disease. A student from West Bengal, a Bollywood singer and other such people have flouted the quarantine norms and put the health officials in a spot, Hindustan Times reported.

The breaking of lockdown rules would result in a jail term for six months or a fine of ₹1000.

Earlier the Prime Minister had ordered a “Janata Curfew” on Sunday, which required all citizens of the country to stay indoors for the whole day, which was essentially an exercise in maintaining self-quarantine. The chief secretaries said that the response to the Prime MInister’s call was spontaneous and overwhelming.

Millions of people in India are in lockdown, but some workers were left stranded during the one-day curfew
Millions of people in India are in lockdown, but some workers were left stranded during the one-day curfew AFP / Arun SANKAR