One year of lockdown: Where India stands now?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 23 last year announced a stringent lockdown in the country for 21 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. One year on, Wednesday will mark a complete year of the restrictions in the country even as the Covid-19 threat is far from over.
"This virus has been spreading very fast across the world. It spreads like wildfire. Looking at the experience of these countries, and what the experts say, the only successful way to tackle the spread of the virus is social distancing,” PM Modi said while announcing the lockdown.
Along with many countries around the world, India is also witnessing a surge in the daily Covid-19 cases. The country's death toll has mounted to 159,967 and its infection tally is above 11.64 million. At the time of the lockdown announcement last year, the infection tally was around 500 and 50 people had died due to the viral disease.
The lockdown came into effect from midnight on March 24. All establishments, including private, commercial, educational and government, were asked to remain shut. At the time of his address, PM Modi described the situation as a "curfew" like. "Every state, every Union territory, every district, every village and every locality is being put under a lockdown. This is in effect a curfew, more stringent than the Janta Curfew,” the Prime Minister said while explaining the new measure.
Limiting the movement of the entire 1.38 billion people, India's nationwide lockdown was one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world.
For many industries lockdown became a transformative time as they tried to reinvent themselves according to the new norms. Among this was health industries, OTT platforms, e-commerce companies, whereas, travel, tourism, hospitality and related sector took the worst hit and are still in a process of recovery.
The lockdown also triggered a massive exodus of migrants due to the shutdown of factories and the workplace. Millions of migrant workers walked or cycled hundreds of kilometres to go back to their native villages, triggering a countrywide outrage and criticism of the Centre.
Covid-19 situation now
Today, there are more than 2,400 laboratories in the country that conduct Covid-19 testing through multiple mediums. According to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), out of the 2,425 labs, 545 government facilities conduct tests through RT-PCR. While 637 others conduct testing through TrueNat Test. At the time of the beginning of the pandemic, the number was just around 100.
In terms of testing samples in a day, the country has improved its numbers to multiple folds. Until March 16 last year, India tested 9,100 samples for Covid-19. At that time India was among the lowest in the world in terms of people tested with respect to population. Today, the number is in millions. As of March 21, the country tested 3,44,45,774 samples for Covid-19, according to the ICMR figures. It tested 880,655 samples on March 21 alone.
India has two vaccines—Covishield developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. It is also the second country after the United States to inoculate the highest number of people. As of March 21, the country immunised 4,50,65,998 people in the country.