BH CORRESPONDENT, New Delhi/Kolkata: India on Wednesday woke up to empty roads and offices, but packed markets, as 1.3 billion people began the biggest lockdown for 21 days in a bid to fight the deadly and fast-spreading coronavirus.
Before the lockdown was announced by the PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday night, state governments warned those violating restrictions would be jailed for up to two years and their vehicles confiscated if they didn’t stay indoors.
The country has so far reported 562 coronavirus infections and 11 deaths. The three-week lockdown in India aims to break the infection transmission chain.
The Centre announced that the government would spend Rs 15,000 crores to ramp up healthcare infrastructure to face infection surge in the coming months.
The Centre has also issued guidelines on essential services, what people can and cannot do during the lockdown. The National Disaster Management Act, 2005, has been invoked for the first time.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced a relief package for businesses, easing tax compliance and bankruptcy rules.
Vegetable prices saw a spike in most cities due to lack of connectivity, hoarding and panic buying.
The Centre has also put a ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine with immediate effect. The agent is used for the prevention and treatment of certain types of malaria.
In his nationwide address on Tuesday, PM Modi said the country will have to bear the economic cost of lockdown but saving the life of every citizen is his priority and the priority of the central and state governments as also of local administrations. Noting that the virus spreads like fire, the Prime Minister said that if care is not taken for 21 days, the country, a family can go behind by 21 years.
With agency inputs