India halts domestic flights, urges netizens to follow lockdown orders seriously

India has announced that it will stop all domestic flights while Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all citizens to comply with the lockdown orders following the increase to the number of COVID-19 cases in the country – now more than 400.

On Monday (23 March), India confirmed two more deaths, bringing the total to nine. One of them was a 54-year-old man with no history of travel.

On the halting of flights, all domestic flights will be suspended from midnight on Tuesday (24 March). Only cargo flights will be allowed to fly across the country while international flights have been banned from entering into India since Sunday (22 March).

“People are still not taking lockdown rules seriously. Please do so and save yourself, save your family, follow rules seriously,” said PM Narendra Modi on Twitter yesterday.

Besides that, the announcement encompassed a series of strict measures implemented by the Indian government. This includes locking down 80 districts, comprising the capital city Delhi and other major metros like Mumbai and Chennai.

The essential services, such as media outlets still can continue, while all offices have been asked to close.

Traffic in Delhi and its adjoining area, including Gurugram, was seen to be noticeably sparse. People can go out of their homes only to stock up on groceries and those going out were stopped by the police – who questioned them on their reason for being out.

Still, people were seen gathering at bus terminals as migrant workers tried to leave the cities and head back to their hometowns and villages.

The restriction of the number of people going in and sanitizers to clean their hands before entering were applied by many shops in India.

The state of the government also implemented a curfew to better enforce the lockdown in the northern state of Punjab and western state of Maharashtra; while in Delhi, gatherings of more than five people at one place were banned.

The Chief Minister of western state of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, ordered a curfew to stay at home starting today. He said, “Despite multiple requests, people are not following rules. This compelled the government to impose the curfew.”

The strict measures also occur in the protest sites that have emptied out. Protesters, including dozens of elderly women at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, who had been protesting for more than three months against the Citizenship Amendment Act for being discriminatory in giving fast track citizenship to non-Muslims from three neighboring countries, also left the place. Only four or five protesters remained at the spot, while some left their footwear behind in a symbolic gesture.

Authorities have warned that violators would be fined 1,000 rupees (S$19) or face up to six months in jail for breaking lockdown orders.

The COVID-19 outbreak affected the Indian stock market as of Monday, in which it is facing a big jump – with the Sensex falling 13.15 per cent. In addition, the Rupee drastically declined 76.16 to the dollar.

At the time of writing, India – with a population of more than 1.35 billions – has 425 positive COVID-19 cases and eight deaths. India also faced a big jump of COVID-19 cases from about 25 or fewer to more than 80 cases per day.

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