İrem UZUN -TDO- Authorities in India have placed more than 80 cities and districts across the country under stringent lockdown after cases of coronavirus were detected there, 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 state shutdowns came during a 14-hour voluntary curfew that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would test India's ability to fight the pandemic.

“Janata curfew will end at 9 p.m. but it doesn’t mean we should start celebrating,” Modi said on Sunday. “It’s the beginning of a long battle. People shouldn’t come out of houses in states which have announced a lockdown. In the rest of the states, if it is not very important, don’t come out of your houses.” As the curfew began, there were announcements of longer-term measures including the suspension of India’s railway system, which in normal times carries 23 million passengers a day. The capital, Delhi, which has reported six cases of coronavirus passed by local transmission, announced a draconian lockdown beginning at 6am on Monday. The city’s borders will be closed to all but food, water and fuel supplies, public transport will be shut, taxis and rickshaws will be kept off the roads and an order has been imposed preventing gatherings of more than four people. Homes of people instructed to go into quarantine have been marked with stickers in an effort to stop them going outside.

The total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases stands at 415, according to Indian Council of Medical Research. Lastly, a 55-year-old man who had recently returned from Italy died at a hospital in Kolkata on Monday. The man had tested positive for COVID-19 infection. According to the local sources, the man and his family had recently returned from Italy, while his son is still there.

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