Millions of people across the national capital New Delhi and major Indian cities were placed under lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus on Monday, even as bourses plunged over 11 per cent.
Many people were still not taking the lockdown seriously, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, as television footage showed people at bus terminals and out in markets in different cities not adhering to social distancing norms.
‘Please save yourself, save your family, follow the directives seriously. I request state governments to ensure that the rules and laws are followed,’ Modi tweeted in Hindi.
Shortly after, the federal government took a tougher tone. It ordered the states to 'strictly enforce' the lockdown, which continues till 31 March, and asked for legal action against those who violated the restrictions. Violators could face fines and jail for up to six months.
Across India, 75 districts including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru were Monday beginning a complete lockdown, which means that only essential services would be allowed.
Railways, metros and inter-state buses have been stopped and public transport including taxis were banned in several states.
Government utility offices and essential services including shops selling grocery, vegetables banks and ATMs, hospitals and pharmacies will remain open.
Across India, the number of positive cases soared in the last three days with 200 fresh cases. There were a total of 415 positive cases and seven people died, according to health officials.
India's domestic markets tanked amid the panic over the pandemic. The benchmark 30-share Sensex had plunged by 11.60 per cent, and was down 3,367.83 points.