India launches day-time curfew to fight spread of coronavirus

RET.ie, New Delhi — Over one billion people in India have been asked to observe a 14-hour long curfew as authorities battle to contain the fast-spreading epidemic.

India launched a 14-hour long curfew on Sunday to limit the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic in the country, where 315 people have so far been found to have contracted the disease  and four deaths were reported in India due to coronavirus, according to official data.

At least 300,097 infections have been confirmed worldwide, including 12,895 deaths, in 169 countries, according to data collected from national authorities and the World Health Organisation.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, a person needs to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

While the curfew is voluntary and is not an outright ban on the movement of people, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national appeal for social distancing has helped dramatically reduce the number of people taking to India’s densely crowded streets.

Experts have warned that the country’s cases are growing at rates seen during the early stages of the outbreak in other countries, which subsequently reported exponential increases in infections.

With over 1.3 billion people, India is trying to battle a pandemic with limited resources.

Minutes before the self-imposed curfew kicked in, Mr Modi said the curbs would help authorities better fight the Covid-19 menace. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come,” he said in the tweet.

While the curfew will be relaxed by Sunday evening, authorities have declared lockdowns in many cities and suspended several rail and road transport services as fears of community transmission of the virus grew across India.

“The curfew period has given us a chance to scale down each and every activity across India,” said a senior aide to Mr Modi, adding that a more rigid approach could trigger protests or unrest.

“A breakdown of law and order will be the worst thing to happen at this point of time,” he said on conditions of anonymity.

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