Scores of Indian districts under lockdown to contain coronavirus

Authorities in India have placed at least 75 districts across the country under stringent lockdown after cases of coronavirus were detected from those areas, as the world’s second-most populous nation stepped up measures to halt the spread of the pandemic.

“State governments will issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases or casualties,” said a home ministry official in New Delhi on Sunday.

The raft of state shutdowns came during a 14-hour voluntary curfew that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would test India’s ability to fight the pandemic.

“This is the start of a long fight,” Modi tweeted as the curfew came to an end, during which people came out onto their balconies and stood near open windows to clap, clang metal vessels and ring bells to cheer emergency workers battling the spread of the coronavirus.

“The people of this country have announced it today that we can take on and defeat as big a challenge as possible if we decide.”