India seals off coronavirus hot spots as country focuses on 'containment zones' to stop spread

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

The world's second largest country, already under nationwide lockdown to fight coronavirus, is now sealing dozens of hot spots as it looks to ease restrictions in less impacted areas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the three-week lockdown on March 24. People in India, a country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, are allowed to leave their homes only for essentials; religious gatherings are explicitly banned.

Officials announced an escalation of the lockdown on Wednesday, as authorities identified and then sealed off dozens of COVID-19 hot spots in the capital of New Delhi and the neighboring Uttar Pradesh state.

“It is a lockdown within a lockdown,” district information officer Gouri Kant told Reuters.

CORONAVIRUS SCAMS IN INDIA INCLUDE PERSON WHO TRIED TO SELL THE WORLD'S LARGEST STATUE FOR BILLIONS

Government officials said that people in hot spot areas will receive food, medicines and other supplies at their doorsteps, and will not be allowed to leave these areas.

An Indian health worker checks the temperature of a man during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Ahmedabad, India, Wednesday.

An Indian health worker checks the temperature of a man during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Ahmedabad, India, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

India’s strategy for battling coronavirus focuses on identifying “containment zones” targeted for efforts to restrict the virus “within a defined geographic area” to stop further transmission.

“To manage coronavirus, we are working on a cluster containment strategy,” Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said Wednesday.

An officer checks the quality as Jammu and Kashmir police personnel make face masks and personal protective gear amid COVID-19 outbreak in Jammu, India,   Wednesday.

An officer checks the quality as Jammu and Kashmir police personnel make face masks and personal protective gear amid COVID-19 outbreak in Jammu, India,   Wednesday. (AP Photo/ Channi Anand)

Although new coronavirus cases are spread over roughly 40 percent of India’s districts, they are concentrated in India’s densely populated urban centers. Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is the worst impacted city in the country.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

People in hot zones are asked to call a hotline number for the delivery of supplies to their homes, according to Reuters.

Fire service personnel spray disinfectant in a residential area during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Ahmedabad, India, Wednesday.

Fire service personnel spray disinfectant in a residential area during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Ahmedabad, India, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Authorities also made it compulsory to wear face masks when outdoors in areas not covered by the restrictions in the two states.

India put its entire population of 1.3 billion, one-fifth of the world's population, under lockdown for three weeks — until April 14.

Modi is set to decide this week whether to extend the lockdown but said Wednesday that several state governments asked for an extension to deal with their outbreaks.

The prime minister has cited serious economic challenges India is facing since the lockdown went into place. The abrupt shutdown announcement led to a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages across the country. Many were forced to walk after the country's rail system was shut down.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

As of Thursday, there are 5,916 COVID-19 cases reported and at least 178 deaths in India, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.