India put under lockdown to contain coronavirus

Published on
March 25, 2020

The Indian government has decided to place the whole country of 1.3 billion people under lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

On 24 March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the lockdown, which entered into force at midnight the same day and will last for 21 days, The Hindu BusinessLine reported.

As of 25 March, more than 500 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the world’s second most-populous country. But a study from the U.S. estimates that India may have up to 1.3 million confirmed cases by mid-May if the country fails to contain the current spread, The Economic Times reported on 24 March.

According to guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the offices of the government of India will remain closed during the lockdown, but operations of armed forces, treasury, public utilities, power generation and transmission units, and hospitals will not be affected.

Commercial and private establishments will be closed, except for shops selling food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy, milk, meat and fish, and animal fodder.

Industrial establishments will be shut down, except for manufacturing units of essential commodities. Those which need to keep continuous operations must seek approval from local governments. Transport services, including air and rail, will be suspended, except for those dealing with essential goods.

Operations of other essential services such as banking, insurance, and internet will continue, with the government emphasizing that “these strict restrictions fundamentally relate to movement of people, but not to that of essential goods.”

Despite reassurance from the country’s government, the nationwide lockdown is expected to be a major financial hit for India. British brokerage Barclays estimated that the shutdowns imposed by the central and state governments will cost India about USD 120 billion (EUR 111 billion), or 4 percent of its gross domestic product this year, The Economic Times reported on 25 March.

Naeem Banglawala, a shrimp farmer operating organic shrimp farms on 100 hectares in Gujarat state and director of a company supplying raw material to processors and exporters, told SeafoodSource on 24 March that shrimp farming has started to feel impacts from the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities in some regions have issued guidelines for price setting and trading of feed and seed needed for shrimp farming, he said.

“Indeed, we are facing similar difficulty to export as all other countries in the world are facing for export/import,” Banglawala said in an email.

Before Modi’s lockdown order went into effect, several states had applied the same measure in their districts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Fishing activities in the southwestern state of Kerala will be suspended until the end of this month, partly due to the ban of public gathering in the state, The Hindu BusinessLine reported. Fishermen in the state are also facing a lot of difficulties because of lower catches, a decline in exports, and falling demand in the domestic market.

Seafood exporters in India had earlier this month expressed concern about a drop in demand for the country’s seafood products due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo courtesy of stockpexel/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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