People rushed to buy essential commodities and police stepped up their presence as a lockdown in 17 Uttar Pradesh districts began on Monday to fight the spread of coronavirus.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced in Gorakhpur that 15 districts in the state will be under lockdown in the first phase, from Monday to Wednesday.
A few hours later, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said Pilibhit has been added to the list of districts. On Monday evening, Jaunpur become the 17th district under lockdown.
Thirty-three people have tested positive for coronavirus so far in the state.
After the Janta curfew on Sunday, people in some areas were seen coming out to stock up on groceries on Monday morning. Some complained that traders had hiked the prices of vegetables.
Lucknow Police Commissioner Sujit Pandey said members of his force were out in large numbers, making people aware of the lockdown and ensuring that essential commodities remained available.
"Police are on the job, he said.
Pandey said 190 police vehicles and public address systems at road crossings in the state capital were put to use, asking people to remain indoors.
Officials said those employed in essential services like banks and the health sector were being allowed to move about after showing their identity cards.
"Efforts are on to see that people do not venture out unnecessarily, a senior official said.
The official said sanitisation work at major crossings and markets was also on.
The UP lockdown is now in force in the districts of Lucknow, Agra, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Aligarh, Moradabad, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Saharanpur, Pilibhit and Jaunpur.
In a tweet on Monday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appealed to people to take the lockdown seriously and stay indoors to help check the spread of the virus.
Barring essential services, all government offices, educational institutes, autonomous bodies, business establishments, private offices, malls, shops, factories, godowns and public transport will remain shut in these districts, the state government said.
The government will periodically evaluate the situation and redefine essential services, Principal Secretary (Medical, Health and Family Welfare) Amit Mohan Prasad said.
The services declared essential include medical, health and family welfare, medical education, home, intelligence/prison administration, police, armed forces and paramilitary forces, personnel department, district administration, energy, urban development, food and civil supplies, disaster relief, fire services, civil defence, information, emergency services, telephone, internet, network services and IT-enabled services.
Postal services, banks, ATMs, insurance companies, e-commerce, media, petrol pumps, LPG and oil agencies, medicine shops, medical equipment shops and medicine producing units, agriculture production and animal fodder too have been classified as essential services.
On Sunday, the chief minister had asked people to avoid unnecessary gatherings at public places.
"We are standing at a juncture where even slight laxity can prove harmful," he said.
He said the districts under lockdown are those where coronavirus cases have been reported.
"These districts will be thoroughly sanitised. Cleanliness drives are already going on for the last three days," the chief minister said.
He said people from places like Mumbai and Surat had arrived in large numbers at Jaunpur, Mirzapur, Mau, Kushinagar, Jhansi, Ghazipur, Ayodhya, Basti, Barabanki, Deoria, Ballia, Santkabirnagar and Gonda districts.
My appeal to them is to stay at home. The administration is making the list of such people and making provisions to keep them separately," he said.
They would be sent to isolation wards on the slightest suspicion of illness and given free treatment, he said.
He asked residents of Nepal-bordering districts like Maharajganj, Siddharthanagar, Shravasti, Balrampur, Bahraich and Pilibhit to remain alert.
The Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation will remain completely closed from Monday to Wednesday.
"No bus from Uttar Pradesh will go to Nepal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or any other state," he said.
The state had reported 27 coronavirus cases till Sunday.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)