TIGHTER CURBS IN REGION: India

Coronavirus: Cities in India impose fresh lockdowns to control spread of Covid-19

A policeman at the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu state border checkpost on the outskirts of Bangalore directing people in a car from neighbouring Tamil Nadu to undergo health screening on Monday. The Indian city of Bangalore, which saw over 1,300 Covid-19 cas
A policeman at the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu state border checkpost on the outskirts of Bangalore directing people in a car from neighbouring Tamil Nadu to undergo health screening on Monday. The Indian city of Bangalore, which saw over 1,300 Covid-19 cases that day, is again on a strict week-long lockdown. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Several cities across India have announced lockdowns again to control spikes in the number of people infected with Covid-19.

India has recorded more than 907,000 Covid-19 cases and almost 24,000 deaths since it reported its first case in January, despite a two-month nationwide lockdown from March 24. This makes it the country with the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, after the US and Brazil.

The federal government began easing restrictions last month and has focused since then on making guidelines for testing and treatment, while letting India's diverse state governments handle the day-to-day management of infections and the economy as they see fit.

As infections rise, different states have reimposed a lockdown in densely populated cities.

Karnataka's state capital Bangalore, which recorded over 1,300 cases on Monday, is again on a strict week-long lockdown from last night. Last month, the city and adjacent rural areas saw infections treble as many residents threw caution to the wind after curbs were eased.

This time, Bangalore's private and public transport will shut until next Wednesday. Only scheduled flights and trains can operate. Grocery shops can open from 5am to noon, and pharmacies all day, but wholesale markets and malls will be closed. Home deliveries are allowed, but most government and private offices will close except banks and post offices, which can stay open but with fewer staff.

Unlike the previous lockdown, no movement passes will be issued this time, except for medical professionals and officials engaged in Covid-19 relief work. A full Sunday lockdown in place since last month will continue across the state.

Karnataka's Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who is under home quarantine after three of his staff tested positive for Covid-19, said the strict guidelines were issued to "control the number of cases and for officials to take steps to address shortfalls of hospital beds".

In Maharashtra, India's worst-affected state with over 254,000 infections, Pune city is under a strict 10-day lockdown that began on Monday. The education hub has the highest number of cases in the state.

Pune's two-phase lockdown sees the city closed till Saturday. From Sunday, shops can open from 8am to noon and e-commerce deliveries can resume. But parks, playgrounds and private offices will remain closed, and private vehicles cannot ply the roads, except for those providing essential services.

Thiruvananthapuram, a city with over 740 Covid-19 cases, the highest in the southern state of Kerala, extended its lockdown imposed on July 6 to next Monday. This came after a large number of cases from unknown sources created multiple clusters in the city.

 
 
 

Thousands of expatriates returning every day, especially those from the Middle East, have shaved a little off Kerala's head start in controlling the pandemic. Kerala has reported over 8,300 infections, most of them recorded since mid-June.

The northern state of Bihar, which crossed 16,000 Covid-19 infections, announced a seven-day lockdown in 11 districts after its highest-ever spike of 1,266 cases on Sunday. This includes the capital Patna, which has already been under strict restrictions since last Friday.

Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh extended lockdowns in their capital cities.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2020, with the headline 'Cities impose fresh lockdowns to control spread of Covid-19'. Subscribe