It was on 30th January of this year when a student at Wuhan University, China, returned to his hometown in Kerala, causing India’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. In the following days, another two students of the same state were confirmed to be positive, also reported to have returned from Wuhan. The month of February saw almost no increase in the number of cases, but in March, the number of cases rose exponentially.
On 4th March, the total number of cases in the country went up to 29. The first death due to COVID-19 was recorded in the Kalaburgi district of Karnataka on 10th March. It was of a 76-year-old man who had a travel history to Saudi Arabia. The second death of the country was registered as a 69-year-old woman from Delhi. On 20th March, Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor who returned from London was tested positive in Lucknow. Then on 25th March the eleventh death due to the virus was reported, and the number of positive cases has risen to 574.
It has been observed that most of these cases have had a history of foreign travel. This virus outbreak has declared an epidemic in various states and union territories, and henceforth the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, has been invoked. Almost all educational institutions have been shut down, and all tourist visas and OCIs have been suspended. On 22nd March, India observed a 14-hour voluntary public curfew called Janta Curfew, as suggested by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was followed by the lockdown of several cities. Thereafter, on 24th March, Prime Minister Modi ordered a complete nationwide lockdown for 21 days in all states and union territories, which would affect the entire 1.3 billion population.
“What the experts are saying is that social distancing is the only option to combat coronavirus. That is to remain apart from each other and stay confined to within your homes. There is no other way to remain safe from coronavirus. If we have to stop the spread, we have to break the cycle of infection,” Modi said. Only water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries, and municipal services will be operational.
“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. This was a much-needed step as the rapid increase in the cases of COVID-19 had to be ceased immediately. Now time will tell if these steps bring about some positive changes or the situation gets worse here in India.
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