One-fifth of world’s population face extended confinement in government-led battle to protect millions from infection.
More than 1.3 billion people across India have lived under lockdown for more than three weeks as the government tries to blunt the effect of coronavirus and prevent healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed by a wave of new infections. But a 21-day period of confinement has not been enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now announced the extension of the biggest lockdown in world history until at least May 3.
India’s health ministry says the number of COVID-19 cases has just crossed the 10,000 mark, with deaths in the hundreds compared with the thousands seen in other countries such as Italy, Spain and the United States. But there are concerns among health experts that the true number of cases is much higher due to a lack of testing and tracing in many parts of the country. The lockdown is also taking its toll on India’s economy. While some parts of the country may soon see the easing of some restrictions, millions of workers remain fearful that a protracted shutdown will push them deep into poverty.