Hundreds of people have been flocking to Mumbai market, flouting COVID-19 precautions, only a day before the two-day lockdown is due to come into effect. And not only has social distancing been largely ignored, many people have also opted to wander around without a face mask.
Only essential services such as vegetable and fruit shops and milk booths are staying open, according to orders issued by the local administration.
Mumbai reported 8,938 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday - a drop from each of the preceding two days when daily new infections exceeded 10,000 - and 23 new deaths, the city council Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
The city's COVID-19 total number surged to 491,698, while the death toll is 11,874.
Reverse Migration Begins
Not only the market was packed - amid fear of complete lockdown in the state, photos of migrant labourers returning to their native state were emerging on social media from Mumbai.
Anand Vihar bus terminal right now. Migrants fleeing night curfew in Delhi & Noida. They are terrified they will be caught in another lockdown..— Annu Jalais, PhD (@AnnuJal) April 8, 2021
Has the Govt learnt absolutely nothing since last year?? #COVIDSecondWave #COVID19India (Photos by Gajendra Yadav) pic.twitter.com/jfncEAEmES
"This train will go to Gorakhpur. We're leaving the city because COVID-19 cases are rising here," said a migrant worker travelling in an Uttar Pradesh state-bound train to Indian news agency ANI.
"As of now, there is a night curfew in place. A lockdown will probably be put in place. To avoid chaos like the previous lockdown, we are travelling back to our native place. Not sure when or whether we will come back here," he further added.
Fearing an exodus by migrant labourers from the city, state ruling party leader Sanjay Nirupam on Friday told reporters: "Our state government has no such plans as to impose complete lockdown in the state. We do not want businesses or small businessmen to incur losses."
The daily COVID-19 cases in India have increased fivefold to more than 100,000 from 20,000 in just two weeks. On Friday, the country reported 131,968 cases and 780 COVID-related deaths, another single day record.