Residents of Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district flocked to shops and supermarkets to buy household supplies in open defiance of social distancing guidelines during a nine-hour relaxation of lockdown curbs, PTI reported. The district administration eased the lockdown restrictions between 6 am and 3 pm for people to buy essential commodities, however, locals were reportedly thronging the stores from early morning.

People resorted to panic buying following a three-day complete lockdown in the district, amid speculation that stores may be shut for three more days from Wednesday. The district had closed even essential services during this period as coronavirus cases increased in the state. The Union health ministry has confirmed 83 Covid-19 cases in Karnataka so far.

Several residents also paid no heed to the district authorities’ advisory to wear masks when they step out. People were seen queuing up outside stores in Mangaluru and other parts of the district.

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“While the queue outside supermarkets had people standing apart, the central market was very crowded,” Satya Reddy, a resident of Mangaluru who was out to buy essential items at 6 am told News18. “People were buying in bulk and selling it outside on pavements and elsewhere. There was no distance between people.”

Meanwhile, authorities expressed concern over the panic. District Secretary V Ponnuraj said the central market, which is the main centre for distribution of vegetables, was crowded. “We need to rework our strategy,” she said, according to The Times of India.

Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner Sindhu B Rupesh said decisions related to a lockdown would be taken in the evening after ascertaining the public response.

During a press briefing on Tuesday evening, the Union ministry said the number of hotspots in the country has increased, given that the number of cases is over 1,200. India reported its sharpest spike in the number of the coronavirus cases on Monday as 227 people tested positive in 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 1,251 with 32 deaths. Kerala has the highest number of positive cases at 202, followed by Maharashtra at 198.