The dabbawalas in Mumbai who send out tiffin to homes and offices have stopped delivery till March 31 to mitigate the risk of contracting the highly contagious Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 as positive cases continue to rise in India.
The dabbawalas are among Mumbai's lifeline, next to the suburban trains, that keep working people in the entertainment and financial capital of India up and running daily.
Disruption in their service, though unavoidable due to the threat from the coronavirus, is likely to put thousands in inconvenience.
The number of people in India infected with the coronavirus has risen to 169, the Health Ministry has said. This includes three who have died.
The Mumbai dabbawalas are known to be resilient even in times of crisis. During heavy monsoon rains when the city gets flooded, they have been seen delivering tiffin to homes and offices, often wading through waist-deep waters.
The government has given several advisories asking people to avoid crowded places and stay at home as much as possible in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Over the last weeks, various state governments have shut down educational institutions. Malls and multiplexes, cancelled sports gatherings and functions and urged people not to travel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the nation at 8 pm today on the coronavirus pandemic.
The tiffin carriers also celebrated the wedding of Prince Harry and and Meghan Markle in May 2018 by giving sweets to relatives of patients at the government-run Tata Memorial Hospital, KEM Hospital and Wadia Hospital.
The dabbawalas use a complex delivery system that's been studied by academics around the world, including Harvard Business School. The men themselves, with their trademark white shirts and caps, are a familiar sight in Mumbai, and they have been featured in the Bollywood movie, "The Lunchbox."
But despite their renown, the dabbawalas have been struggling to keep up with the plethora of food-delivery apps and services.