India’s Most Populous State ‘Seals’ 15 Districts to Stop Virus

The 15 districts sealed in Uttar Pradesh include Modi’s constituency of Varanasi.

India’s Most Populous State ‘Seals’ 15 Districts to Stop Virus
Police personnel punish commuters for flouting lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Lucknow, on April 5, 2020. (Photographer: Nand Kumar/PTI)

(Bloomberg) -- India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh has decided to seal-off 15 of its districts worst affected by coronavirus infections in order to try and contain the spread of the disease.

“Since the numbers have risen sharply, this move is essential to stop community spread,” R. K. Tiwari, chief secretary of the state, said in a television interview on Wednesday. The state has so far recorded 326 infections and three deaths.

The decision comes as total infections in India touched 5,360, including 164 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. India is in the middle of a 21-day national lockdown that ends April 14 and the federal government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to decide the way forward even as infections continue to rise in the nation of 1.3 billion.

The sealing of districts in Uttar Pradesh, which with a population of some 200 million equals Brazil, will be stricter than the current shutdown and only those supplying essential commodities will be allowed entry to these areas. Every home will receive only home deliveries of products, Tiwari said. The 15 districts sealed in the state include Modi’s constituency of Varanasi.

The Modi administration has been in talks with independent health experts and state governments. On Wednesday the prime minister met, via video conference, with leaders from across political parties.

Modi described the situation in the country as a “social emergency,” according to a statement from the Press Information Bureau.

The prime minister said various states and district administrations as well as experts have suggested the lockdown be extended, the statement added.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.