India reported one Covid-19 death on Tuesday, taking the toll to 10. The number of cases of coronavirus rose to 519, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 469 are active cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech to the country at 8 pm, said that a nationwide lockdown would come into effect for three weeks starting midnight on Tuesday. “If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days [of lockdown] we will be pushed back by 21 years,” Modi said.
The prime minister also announced that the Centre had allocated Rs 15,000 crore to improve the health infrastructure in the country. He admitted that there would be an economic cost due to the shutdown, but said that saving human lives was more important.
The Centre had on Sunday suspended all train, metro and interstate bus services across the country till March 31 in unprecedented steps to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A number of states on Tuesday imposed a lockdown, and states and Union Territories which had imposed a lockdown in some districts extended it to the entire state. As of Tuesday evening, 32 states and Union Territories in India had imposed a lockdown or a curfew.
On Monday, the Centre announced that all domestic flights would be suspended from Wednesday. International flights to India have already been banned. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation told airlines to ensure that passengers sit on alternate seats till Wednesday, to enforce social distancing.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the deadline for filing income tax returns for 2018-’19 was being extended to June 30 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are close to announcing an economic package, which will be announced sooner or later,” Sitharaman said.
A group of Kashmiri students have been left stranded near Bangladesh’s border with India, after New Delhi closed its side of the border. The students issued an appeal to the Ministry of External Affairs, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to facilitate the opening of India’s border with Bangladesh and allow them a safe passage to the country.
The Election Commission of India deferred Rajya Sabha elections. The Election Commission said that the “unforeseen” situation arising out of the outbreak calls for avoiding any kind of gathering.
Meanwhile, two health experts on Tuesday said they believed that community transmission of Covid-19 was happening in India, and that the country needed to test more patients to ascertain this.
Budget carrier IndiGo on Monday said many of its employees were facing ostracism in their respective hometowns for their “line of duty and travel history” amid the coronavirus outbreak. IndiGo is the second airline, after Air India, to report such instances in the last two days. Both the airlines had sent their crew to bring back stranded Indians from coronavirus-hit countries like China, Italy and Iran.
Following such complaints from doctors and healthcare workers too, the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday asked Delhi Police chief SN Srivastava to ensure security to such personnel. Home Minister Amit Shah’s order came hours after a representation was sent to him apprising him about the incidents of harassment of doctors by some landlords, claiming that coronavirus could be transmitted through the medicos.