India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday, as officials battle to contain the country's biggest cluster of coronavirus infections in the capital, New Delhi.
The shutdown, which has brought Asia's third-largest economy to a shuddering halt, is due to end on April 14.
Modi had ordered India's 1.3 billion people indoors to avert a massive outbreak of coronavirus infections, but the world's biggest shutdown has left millions without jobs and forced migrant workers to flee to their villages for food and shelter.
He told state chief ministers that the shutdown had helped limit infections but that the situation remained far from satisfactory around the world and there could be a second wave.
India has 1,965 confirmed infections, of whom 50 have died.
Health experts have warned that the death toll could surge across South Asia, home to a fifth of the world's population and with weak public health systems.
India has begun converting railway carriages and sport stadiums into isolation wards to deal with an anticipated surge in coronavirus cases.
Indian Railways on Wednesday said work had begun on modifying 20,000 carriages into medical facilities, with each carriage containing 16 beds.
This means that a total of 320,000 patients could be cared for in the "quarantine coaches", a statement from the railways said.
Apart from converting railway coaches, Indian states have also begun converting sports stadiums into quarantine facilities and temporary hospitals, taking a cue from other countries which resorted to similar measures to cope with the huge number of cases.
Stadiums in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Assam have been converted into a quarantine centre to deal with the rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.