India reimposes lockdown for 15m people after second coronavirus spike

Huge crowds filled the streets of Mumbai, India, last week as lockdown in the country began to lift despite a continuing rise in cases of coronavirus. (Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Huge crowds filled the streets of Mumbai, India, last week as lockdown in the country began to lift despite a continuing rise in cases of coronavirus. (Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

India has reimposed lockdown for 15 million people as coronavirus cases surge.

“Full Lockdown from 19th for Chennai, Thiruvallur, Chengalpet & Kanchipuram districts,” the Tamil Nadu state government tweeted.

The ruling covers the city of Chennai and neighbouring districts and will be in place until the end of June.

India, home to 1.3 billion people, has gradually lifted a nationwide lockdown over the past few weeks despite new infections continuing to rise.

The number of coronavirus cases soared by more than 10,000 in one day on Saturday, making India the nation with the fourth largest number of cases in the world.

The country’s latest single-day spike of 10,956 saw India overtake the UK in number of cases.

A policeman in Chennai regulates the crowd as people line up to buy alcohol after the government eased a nationwide lockdown in May. A full lockdown has been reimposed in the region following a spike on coronavirus cases (Arun Sankar/AFP)
A policeman in Chennai regulates the crowd as people line up to buy alcohol after the government eased a nationwide lockdown in May. A full lockdown has been reimposed in the region following a spike on coronavirus cases (Arun Sankar/AFP)
Shops closed in Adalat Bazar as part of the lockdown imposed by the Punjab government in Patiala, India. (Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times vis Getty Images)
Shops closed in Adalat Bazar as part of the lockdown imposed by the Punjab government in Patiala, India. (Photo by Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times vis Getty Images)

Tamil Nadu, of which Chennai is the capital, is the second-worst hit state after Maharashtra. The southern state has recorded just over 44,000 cases out of a nationwide total of 332,424, according to official figures.

The news came as England lifted more lockdown restrictions on Monday, with non-essential shops opening and more pupils returning to school.

The World Health Organisation has warned that England’s lockdown should not be further lifted until the government’s contact-tracing system has proven to be “robust and effective”.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director for Europe, warned that the UK remained in a “very active phase of the pandemic”.

The government has admitted that thousands of people at risk of having COVID-19 didn’t say if they would self-isolate after being contacted by its coronavirus tracers.

Far right groups gathered on Whitehall on Saturday while tens of thousands joined Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country, sparking fears that a second wave of coronavirus in England is imminent (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Far right groups gathered on Whitehall on Saturday while tens of thousands joined Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country, sparking fears that a second wave of coronavirus in England is imminent (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Baroness Harding, the Tory peer in charge of Test and Trace, also said “a small minority don’t want to self-isolate”.

Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the falling numbers of coronavirus cases has given the government “more margin for manoeuvre” in easing the 2-metre physical distancing rule, but Kluge warned against Britain rushing into reopening the economy, warning of the potential for a second peak.

Fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections shut six major food markets in Beijing on Friday, and six U.S. states said their hospital beds were filling up fast.

Health officials worldwide have warned that restrictions are being lifted too soon by countries keen to jumpstart their damaged economies.

Mass anti-racism protests, and demonstrations at the weekend organised to ‘guard’ against attack on monuments such as the Cenotaph and a statue of Windston Churchil in London, have provoked fears of a second wave in England.

The European Union's health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU members: "We must be ready to roll back relaxation of measures if needed.”

In China, where the virus is believed to have originated, two new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the capital, Beijing.

Authorities closed part or all of six big wholesale food markets that the two infected men had recently visited, but it is not known how they became infected.

Countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, have also reported second waves after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Spain saw daily COVID-19 cases double two days in a row last week, with Madrid and Catalonia, two of the hardest-hit regions, being home to more than half of the country's new cases, in the same week that the regions allowed indoor restaurants, bars and cinemas to begin operating.

Shoppers turned out in their droves on Monday as non-essential stores reopened in England (Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Shoppers turned out in their droves on Monday as non-essential stores reopened in England (Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The country’s chief epidemiologist said the outbreaks are under control but urged caution.

The British government has been accused of allowing coronavirus to spread by introducing lockdown too late.

Kluge added: “We know that early lockdowns saved lives and bought some time for the health system to be ready.

“But I would rather than instead of looking to the past, jump to the future and say that the question of lifting the lockdown is as important as going to the lockdown. The key words here are to do it gradually. Do it carefully.”

On Monday afternoon the UK had recorded 41,698 deaths from coronavirus.

Boris Johnson visited a department store in east London on Sunday to see the coronavirus measures in place ahead of its reopening. The prime minister has eased lockdown measures in England in a bid to jumpstart the economy (Photo by John Nguyen/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson visited a department store in east London on Sunday to see the coronavirus measures in place ahead of its reopening. The prime minister has eased lockdown measures in England in a bid to jumpstart the economy (Photo by John Nguyen/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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