An aerial view shows parked trains at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj railway terminus in Mumbai. AFP
Millions of Indians went into lockdown on Sunday as the country brought most of its vast railway network to a halt in a bid to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
India bans international flights to rein in coronavirus; seals off Kashmir
India suspends tourist visas over coronavirus
Most domestic flights were grounded and shops shut their doors for the 14-hour curfew that is designed to test the country's ability to fight the pandemic.
Normally bustling streets in the capital New Delhi and financial hub of Mumbai were mostly deserted as the shutdown began at 7:00 am (0130 GMT).
Incoming international flights have also been banned.
While the lockdown was not mandatory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the population of 1.3 billion to help prepare for the challenges ahead.
"Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against COVID-19 menace," Modi tweeted.
"Stay indoors and stay healthy."
Health ministry official Lav Agarwal said the government is seeking "unity in isolation".
Only a handful of people ventured into Delhi's popular Lodhi Gardens park which security guard Jaiveer Singh said was usually packed.
"If this helps stop the spread, then the government can think of extending it for two to three more days," Singh said.
The curfew -- which some see as a rehearsal for a longer lockdown -- comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India surges past 320, with five deaths reported so far.
But experts say a lack of testing could be hiding the true scale of the health crisis in the country.
Testing for the virus has been expanded to private laboratories and will now include asymptomatic people who have had contact with confirmed cases.
In a sign of growing anxiety, Indian Railways, one of the world's biggest networks, cancelled all services except suburban and goods trains until March 31.
The move will affect more than 20 million passengers a day and comes after several people tested positive for the virus after trips.
Modi also urged Indians to thank medical workers and other emergency personnel by clapping or banging pots and pans for five minutes at 5:00 pm.
Residents in numerous cities held a practice session Saturday, generating a deafening cacophony as they stood on their balconies banging cookware.
This "is most likely a dry run for a more prolonged curfew when rather than if the situation deteriorates," Milan Vaishnav, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank, told AFP.
India has an overburdened public health system that suffers from a lack of doctors and hospitals and experts said the country would not escape the highly infectious disease.
"We are in for a very long fight," warned virologist Shahid Jameel of biomedical research charity Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance.
India is leaving behind the worst financial year in the years of Independence. Since the colonial period, the financial year has run from April 1 to March 31 of the following calendar year. On March 25 last year, a week before end of the 2019-20 financial
The daily number of new coronavirus infections in France stayed above 20,000 on average for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, while hospitalisations reached an eight-week high of 27,041.
It is indeed a rollicking shame that political parties in India, continue to dabble in politics, as people die, due to COVID-19. The president of the ruling BJP party in Gujarat state was distributing the Remdesivir injections free to the people. The Chief Minister,
Whilst the number, of COVID cases, in the UAE is reducing, I am shocked to read of the alarming rise in cases back home in India. COVID is not a flu, so I wonder why the public is is so lax and callous, despite precautionary heath measures being put in place. The situation back home is getting
Sheikh Sultan has ordered the release of 399 prisoners of different nationalities from Sharjah's correctional and punitive establishments, ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Qatar's Interior Ministry described the building as a four-story structure in Doha's Bin Durham neighborhood. It said rescuers found seven survivors, while the one person killed had been inside the building at the time of the collapse.
A large number of diplomatic corps, officials of the UAE, prominent business individuals and Pakistani community residing in the UAE participated in the event.