The first day of the lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic concluded smoothly in the districts of northern Telangana, which share their borders with Maharashtra.
Curfew-like scenes were witnessed in Nizamabad and Kamareddy districts and people largely remained indoors. Several villages put up makeshift barricades at the entrances of the villages, barring entry to outsiders.
The Telangana government on Sunday announced a statewide lockdown until March 31 in the wake of rapid growth in the number of COVID-19 positive cases. The state has reported 33 cases as of Monday.
Compared to Hyderabad, which saw several people violate the lockdown orders, Nizamabad witnessed less human activity on the roads, barring police and sanitisation staff. A few people were seen making their way around on two-wheelers.
The daily market in the town was shut along with the Nizamabad Bus Stand and the railway station, which usually sees around one lakh passengers travel every day.
Nizamabad Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Srinivas said that several people have come out for groceries and medicines in the wake of the lockdown. In a brief conversation with media, he stated that people must abide by lockdown and should not come out unless there is an emergency.
Police authorities in Bodhan Sub Division, which shares a border with Maharashtra, ensured the lockdown of the state border, prohibiting the entry and exit of private and commercial vehicles. The state has said that only vehicles carrying essential commodities will be allowed.
National Highway (NH) 44 largely remained empty with very little movement of vehicles. While they were shut for service, a few dhabas and hotels along the highway were seen offering takeaways and parcels to truck drivers.
At several places, youngsters who stepped on to the roads out of curiosity were counselled and sent back by the police.
Nizamabad Government General Hospital (GGH), which set up an isolation ward to house suspected cases of COVID-19 cases, was offering only limited services to patients.
.Nizamabad Govt General Hospital, only emergency treatments/cases are being seen. Authorities have already set up an isolation ward to treat #COVID19 patients. As the lock down announced very less floating of patients was witnessed. pic.twitter.com/t2N3JNRKjqâ€” CharanTeja (@CharanT16) March 23, 2020
According to Hospital Superintendent Dr Nageshwar Rao, the hospital offered out-patient services till 12 pm on Monday following which it was only open to the general public for emergency services. He told TNM that further changes will be made as per circulars from the concerned department.
Employees of informal sector were affected as several migrant labourers and families were stuck without transport facilities in the city. The state has shut down all buses of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) and has also banned autos and taxis from ferrying passengers.
Sangareddy District Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Reddy oversaw a security checkpoint at Chiragpally, an entry point into Telangana for those coming from Maharashtra and Karnataka, to ensure that the lockdown was in place.
He said that the police will continue to maintain the lockdown till March 31 at five border check posts under the Sangareddy police's jurisdiction, as per the government orders. He further stated that the police will set up checkpost even in towns to curtail movement of people.
In Adilabad districts, as many as five checkpoints were placed to deter inter-state traffic from Maharashtra. Across the districts, police patrolling teams and checkpoints have tried to keep the movement of people to a minimum.
Adivasis of Marlavai village of Kumarambheem Asifabad district have set up 'village checkpost' to control Coronavirus and passed a resolution not to allow outsiders into their village till March31. The villagers canceled all the traditional rituals and marriages in their village. pic.twitter.com/bgbDPtVcppâ€” SRINIVAS PILLALAMARRI (@SRINIVASPILLAL3) March 23, 2020
However, despite restrictions and in the face of fear, people were seen out on the roads, claiming that they are coming out for groceries. Few police officials had to use mild force in certain places to keep the people indoors.
State Health Minister Eatala Rajender lambasted people who are coming out on the roads by disregarding the Telangana government's advice. He said that the government will not tolerate such 'irresponsible behaviour'.