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India’s Chaotic Cities Turn Eerily Silent as Virus Fears Grow

  • WhatsApp the new warzone for 1.3 billion citizens in lockdown
  • Millions of day laborers stranded without food and work
Pedestrians walk along the near-empty Mohammed Ali Road during a lockdown in Mumbai, on March 25.
Pedestrians walk along the near-empty Mohammed Ali Road during a lockdown in Mumbai, on March 25.Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
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The bustling streets are silent across much of India as the country heeds Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 21-day lockdown to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus, but the WhatsApp groups are buzzing.

As the number of infections continue to rise, the anger and anxiety once expressed by the honking of horns at rush hour is finding voice on neighborhood and family message groups trying to figure out new rules for community living as the pandemic sweeps across the world.