Indians have been warned they could be shot if they defy the coronavirus lockdown with thousands queuing for food today despite social distancing advice.
Three more people died overnight as the health ministry said the number of cases had risen to 649, including 13 dead.
But despite the populace of 1.3billion being told to stay indoors by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thousands were seen lining up close behind each other to get into bustling markets in Delhi, Kolkota and Mumbai on Thursday.
Yesterday there were chaotic scenes across the nation with police beating violators of the lockdown with rattan canes and forcing others to crouch down in chalk circles to teach them about social distancing.
In the southern state of Telangana the chief minister, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar, made the most ruthless threat to anyone who continues to flout the rules.
‘Please don’t let it come to this,’ he said. ‘The administration cannot stop everyone and I will have to call in the army or issue ‘shoot at sight’ orders. Please stay at home.’
Hundreds line up for food at the D-mart mall in Mira Road, Mumbai, on Thursday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a three week lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus
People buy vegetables in a market where food is seen strewn across the floor during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India
People queue to buy groceries at a D-mart mall in Mira Road in suburban Mumbai, India, on Thursday. Maharashtra state has been put under lock down till 31 March in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 and coronavirus
In the southern state of Telangana the chief minister, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar, made the most ruthless threat to anyone who continues to flout the rules. ‘Please don’t let it come to this,’ he said. ‘The administration cannot stop everyone and I will have to call in the army or issue ‘shoot at sight’ orders. Please stay at home.’ (pictured: a guard at a checkpoint in New Delhi today)
People look on as they stand in circles drawn to maintain safe distance while waiting to buy medicine during a 21-day nationwide lockdown in Kolkata on Thursday
Police disinfect their batons during lockdown enforcement
Police officer Pankaj Nain from the northern Indian state of Haryana shared the since-deleted video of the unnamed officer spraying the batons on social media.
In the clip, an officer can be seen spraying three wooden sticks, known as ‘lathis’ with disinfectant.
The words ‘full tyari’ (full preparation) can be seen across the screen and the clip was shared with the caption: ‘Preparation in full swing. #Coronafighters’
Some were outraged by the officers appearing to condone police brutality after violators of Modi’s lockdown had been beaten by officers.
India has so far reported a relatively small number of cases compared to European nations that are reporting figures well into the tens of thousands, but there are fears that generally cramped living conditions, poverty, poor hygiene and a creaking healthcare system could quickly cause it to run out of control.
Experts warn that up to 500million Indians could contract coronavirus within the next year, which would mean more than 1million deaths in the next 12 months.
Announcing the lockdown Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that only essential services such as water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services will be allowed to operate.
All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended. Construction activity will also be halted.
‘According to health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection. If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be setback by 21 years. If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever,’ Modi said.
In videos which have emerged online, officers are seen punishing members of the public caught roaming on the streets in Patiala, Bathinda and Chandigarh in the North Indian state of Punjab. Violators are made to do sit-ups and body rolls while police beat them with cane sticks.
A policeman removes air from the tyre of a labourer carrying vegetables to dissuade people from crowding outside a market during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India
People queue standing in circles drawn to maintain safe distance as they wait to buy grocery items during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, India
A plainclothes police officer strikes a man over the legs for breaking a strict 21-day curfew imposed across India as the country attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus in Kolkata yesterday
India’s 1.3billion people woke Wednesday to find themselves under the world’s most extensive coronavirus lockdown – with police using rattan canes to beat people into compliance in New Delhi yesterday
Rwandan cops shoot dead two men for defying lockdown order
Rwanadan police yesterday shot and killed two men who defied the government lockdown order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The pair in their twenties, ‘attempted to tussle with officers,’ Rwanda National Police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told Bloomberg.
The two-week shutdown started on March 22, putting in place travel restrictions and urging people to stay inside.
They are some of the most stringent measures on the continent.
Rwanda has recorded 40 cases of the deadly infection.
The lockdown means that roughly a third of the world’s population – or 2.6billion people – are now living under some kind of restriction imposed because of coronavirus, half of them in India.
While police were strict at enforcing the lockdown in the country’s metropolises, there were fears that the lockdown could inadvertently cause the disease to spread to the countryside as migrant workers packed on to buses to avoid being locked down away from their families.
Meanwhile India’s colossal passenger railway system has come to a halt as officials take emergency measures to keep the coronavirus pandemic from spreading in the country of 1.3 billion.
The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.
On Thursday, streets were silent across cities and towns on the second day of a three-week, 24 hour shutdown. Lines of people, wearing masks and some with gloves, could be seen outside small neighbourhood shops in Delhi and Mumbai, among other cities.
Homeless and impoverished Indian receive food at a government shelter in New Delhi on Thursday. Some of India’s legions of poor and people suddenly thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid distribution Thursday, as both the public and private sector work to blunt the impact of efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Homeless and impoverished Indians receive food at a government shelter in New Delhi as the widespread effects of the virus begin to bite in the country of 1.3billion
Security personnel stand guard at a checkpoint during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi today
People queue to buy groceries at a D-mart mall in Mira Road, Mumbai, today after the lockdown went into effect yesterday
People queue to buy groceries at a D-mart mall in Mira Road, India, 26 March 2020. Maharashtra state has been put under lock down till 31 March in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 and coronavirus.
People stand on designated areas to maintain social distancing as they queue outside a medical store during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Srinagar
Trucks were stranded at state borders and public transport was withdrawn. Police have strictly enforced the lockdown even though Modi said essential services would be maintained. Ram Prakash, a shopkeeper in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, said supplies of some essential goods had improved although bottled water was still a problem.
‘We are still facing supply issues with a few things, but slowly things are getting better,’ he said.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a Geneva news conference that with the lockdown in place, India had a window of opportunity to expand testing, surveillance and quarantine facilities and said its success with eliminating polio was an example.
‘India got rid of polio by breaking it by breaking it down to the village level. All the way through the system, it broke down the problem, it went after the polio virus district by district by district by district. And India won. If India does the same thing, breaks down the problem, puts in place the measures that are needed, then there is a way out.’
Men caught violating rules about public gatherings in India are forced to crouch inside chalk circles drawn on the ground to show them what mandatory minimum distances looks like amid the country’s lockdown
Customers watch municipal workers painting white marks on the floor to help maintain recommended social distancing as they queue outside a departmental store during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in Mumbai
While the lockdown is intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus, there were fears that it could inadvertently spread it to the countryside as migrant workers fled cities on packed buses
India has tested 24,254 people as of Wednesday, according to the government run Indian Council of Medical Research, a small number compared to the population.
Only recently has the government authorised the private sector and some nongovernmental research laboratories to run the tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Today the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies, including India’s Modi, will convene for a virtual meeting to coordinate a response to the fast-spreading coronavirus.
The meeting for the Group of 20 nations (G20) will be chaired by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
The kingdom, which is presiding over the G20 this year, said it organised the extraordinary meeting to advance global efforts to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications as people lose their incomes amid closures, curfews and lockdowns.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks in front of members of a municipal fire brigade as they spray disinfectant in a street ofthe Mira Road residential area during an official lockdown of the city in an effort to combat the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the Covid-19 disease, in Mumbai, India, 26 March 2020
Members of a municipal fire brigade spray disinfectant in a street ofthe Mira Road residential area of Mumbai today in an effort to combat the spread of the virus
New Delhi train station, one of the busiest in the world, was all-but deserted Wednesday morning as India entered the first full day of a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus
A deserted view of the Delhi – Meerut Expressway which is typically packed with cars was all-but deserted Wednesday morning as India adjusted to life under quarantine
The meeting comes amid criticism that the world’s wealthiest countries have not taken cohesive action to combat the virus or its economic impact on people around the world.
The global death toll from the new coronavirus, which causes an illness called Covid-19, has climbed past 21,000 with the number of infections surpassing 472,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The number of dead in the US rose to 1,041 as of late Wednesday, with nearly 70,000 infections.
Spain’s death toll has risen past 3,400, eclipsing that of China, where the virus was first detected in December.