NEW DELHI: Authorities in India's eastern state of Bihar will impose a complete lockdown for a period of 16 days to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Wednesday.
The lockdown will begin from Thursday and will remain in force in the state until July 31.
According to the officials, the decision has been taken in the wake of an alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state during the past three weeks.
All government and private offices, educational institutions, public corporations will remain closed. Commercial establishments too will remain closed in wake of the lockdown. However, ration shops, dairy outlets, vegetable and meat shops will remain open for the convenience of the public.
Bihar is the 12th worst-hit state in India with 19,284 COVID-19 cases including 174 deaths.
Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi has blamed the recent spike on "laxity in taking precautions at public places" and urged people to demonstrate a "collective will" to break the infection chain during the coming phase of lockdown.
The authorities have exempted construction-related activities and agricultural practices during the lockdown period.
"During the lockdown, all places of worship will remain closed and religious gatherings will not be permitted," a local government official said. "People are being requested to follow precautionary measures like maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and frequent washing of hands."