In India, home country of MSc Biotechnology student Isha Mahajan (24), the government ordered a nationwide lockdown, limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population. In the following days millions of people travelled to their rural hometowns.
‘A lot of people, including the many daily wage workers, left the cities after the lockdown was announced. Not only for financial reasons. Family is very important for Indian people, so during this scary time everyone prefers to go back to their hometown and to stay with their parents or in-laws. The Indian travel pattern reminded me of Italy. After COVID-19 blew up in Lombardy, a lot of people wanted to go back to their hometowns in the south of Italy as soon as possible.
There is a lot of contradictory information about the current situation in India circulating the internet. The media makes it seem like people are not following the regulations, while my friends and family tell me that that is not actually the case. I hope they are correct, because if we want to fight this virus successfully, everyone should cooperate.
In India working outside of the house has become very difficult. My mom told me that the whole area will be locked down when there is a positive case of COVID-19 in a certain area. No-one will be allowed to go in or out of that area, except people working vital fields such as the food industry or medical services.
I really love how Indian people help and support each other during these difficult times. For example, the prime minister suggested that everyone turns off their lamps at 9pm for 9 minutes and lights a candle or a diya (an Indian style oil lamp) – just to show that people are all in this together.
I feel very involved with the whole situation, because my dear ones are in India. But I can’t do much about it, only encourage people to stay at home as much as possible and abide by the regulations set by the government.’