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Coronavirus: India defiant as millions struggle under lockdown

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The Indian government has defended its handling of the coronavirus outbreak after a strict lockdown – introduced with little warning – left millions stranded and without food.

The country's response had been "pre-emptive, pro-active and graded", it said in a statement.

India's population of 1.3 billion was given less than four hours' notice of the three-week lockdown on Tuesday.

Officially about 900 people have coronavirus in India.

However, experts worry that the real number of infections could be far higher. India has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, although efforts are under way to ramp up capacity.

There are fears that an outbreak in the country – one of the world's most densely-populated – could result in a catastrophe. So far 20 people are reported to have died.

People are banned from leaving their homes under the "total lockdown" measures.

However, there have been reports of long queues and panic buying as people struggle to get supplies.

Meanwhile, millions have been left jobless and without money by the shutdown, sparking an exodus from major cities.

Thousands of migrant workers are walking long distances back to their villages after transport was stopped.

Several state governments have promised cash handouts. Uttar Pradesh in the north is putting on buses to help stranded workers.

But there are concerns about the logistics of delivering the aid.

On Saturday the Information and Broadcasting Ministry hit back against criticism that the measures were announced without planning.

The government had already put in place a "comprehensive response system" at its borders before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January, it added.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly in other countries around the world.

  • The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation. People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.
  • Nearly 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and almost 28,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University
  • The death toll in Spain has exceeded 5,000, after it reported 832 more fatalities in the past 24 hours. Spain is the world&#0Read More – Source

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