India on coronavirus lockdown as authorities try to stop spread of Covid-19

  • Sanjay Jha (@Sanjayjha) works for ITV News in New Delhi. Here, he writes on how the nationwide lockdown is impacting life across the world's second-most populous country

With a spiralling number of cases of coronavirus and an increase in the death toll, the whole of India has gone into lockdown for three weeks to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The country registered 37 fresh cases of coronavirus on Monday, increasing the total number of cases to 467.

Also on Monday, the Indian Health Ministry confirmed that nine people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have now died.

More than 19 provincial governments have now gone for complete lockdowns, including the country's capital of New Delhi where streets have become deserted and commercial establishments have been ordered to shut down until the end of the month.

More than 80 cities across India are on complete lockdown.

Streets have been left deserted as Indians were told to stay home. Credit: Vivek Dutta Gupta/ITV News

With these cities on lockdown and severe restrictions on transport - especially inter-city and inter-state - life as Indians know it has completely change.

India’s trains, metros and inter-state buses have already been suspended across the country.

This transportation shutdown has affected millions of Indians who commute to work in big cities.

Markets, salons, malls, cinemas, schools, colleges and gyms are also shut in most of the country.

Local governments in New Delhi and in India’s financial capital of Mumbai have imposed a curfew to force people to stay indoors.

Western Indian state of Maharashtra is worst hit with the highest number of cases of Covid-19 cases - 97.

In the last 24 hours, the state has reported 23 new cases.

A sign advising people to take precautions to deal with coronavirus. Credit: Vivek Dutta Gupta/ITV News

From midnight on Tuesday, the government will shut down domestic flights, on top of a ban on international flights already in place to try and contain the coronavirus.

Health experts are warning of a big jump in the number of cases which could overwhelm the underfunded and overstretched public health infrastructure.

A group of scholars and data scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Michigan University and DSE, called the COV-IND-19 Study Group, has said in a report that without such intervention by provincial governments, India could have an explosion of cases by mid-May.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Shops have been told to close until the end of the month. Credit: Vivek Dutta Gupta/ITV News

Scientist in the report have said "the epidemiological and mathematical calculations make a convincing case for enforcing severe interventions, they come at a tremendous price to the social and economic health of the people of India”.

Scholars have recommended that the Indian government should “adopt draconian measures for the largest democracy in the world", acting early, before the growth of Covid-19 infections in India starts to accelerate.

However, the cases will drastically reduce with the most severe form of intervention, which includes social distancing, travel bans and lockdown.