People clap and bang utensils from their balconies to cheer for emergency personnel and sanitation workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus, in Mumbai, India, March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
Eastern Eye Staff
MILLIONS of Indians stayed at home on Sunday (22), heeding the prime minister’s appeal for people to self-isolate to contain the coronavirus pandemic as the country confirmed 340 cases and seven deaths.
While the “Janta Curfew” was voluntary not an outright ban on movement, Narendra Modi’s appeal resonated and streets across India wore a deserted look, paving way for government to impose swift measures to suspend rail and transport services this week.
Ahead of the start of the curfew, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “In a few minutes from now, the #JantaCurfew commences. Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against COVID-19 menace.”
Federal and state governments completely shut down 75 districts across the country and Indian Railways, which carries more than 25 million commuters a day, cancelled all passenger train services until March 31.
Air quality in the usually noisy and bustling financial capital of Mumbai has improved markedly and social media users posted videos of empty streets with the sound of birds chirping.
Modi had asked citizens to stand at balconies and near windows on Sunday evening to clap and ring bells in praise of emergency personnel and sanitation workers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus. The masses responded with fervour.
India has cancelled most entry visas for people flying in from other countries. Facebook’s WhatsApp has partnered with the federal government to launch a helpline for sharing accurate information about the epidemic and tackle the spread of misinformation through its platform. India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with 400 million users.