This article originally appeared on VICE India.
After being in lockdown for almost a month, some Indian states are slowly easing the restrictions in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion of selective relaxation for non-containment zones. Starting yesterday, India has relaxed restrictions on farming, banking and public works, but transport services and most businesses remain closed.
However, as the first phase of lockdown relaxation was rolled out on April 20, India saw massive traffic snarls on roads across the country.
In Delhi, despite no relaxation in the measures as per the state government orders, huge traffic jams were seen near some of the busiest areas of the city, and on the DND flyover, which connects Delhi to Noida. As the Azadpur Mandi—the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the country—was also allowed to open up in phases from today, vehicles have been out in heavy numbers from as early as six in the morning.
Massive traffic jams were also seen in cities like Pune, Guwahati, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, despite these states having a large number of coronavirus cases. This development has enraged citizens who have been adhering to lockdown rules, prompting them to express their anger online.
What’s even more worrying is that people are roaming around freely under the assumption that since they aren’t showing any signs of the virus, they probably don’t have it. However, new data reveals that almost 80 percent of all coronavirus patients are either mild or asymptomatic. Currently, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India stands at 18,793, with 14,914 active cases and 599 deaths.
Meanwhile, five states—Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Delhi—have already pulled out of the relaxation, opting for a full lockdown until May 3. Coincidentally, the first day of relaxation also saw the biggest spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, indicating that the country is probably not ready for a relaxation in lockdown measures just yet or at the very least, needs to plan the phasing out of the restrictions much better.
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