A BUSINESS owner living in the heart of the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown has described the desperate measures being undertaken to avoid starvation.

For the past 28 years Jessica Schomberg, 50, has lived between India, Indonesia and Colchester.

She runs a small shop, JeS, in St John’s Street, Colchester, selling self-designed and fair trade clothing.

But most of her year is spent living in the Indian coastal state of Goa, where she is currently stuck in the midst of a strict countrywide lockdown.

Jessica said the situation in India is changing “minute by minute.”

India’s 1.3 billion citizens have entered a 21-day lockdown, with the country so far reporting more than 700 coronavirus cases and around 20 deaths.

The standstill is expected to devastate the country’s economy.

“It started with people saying corona would not come here because it was too hot,” she said.

“Suddenly it came to India and the government announced a one day lockdown which we prepared for.

“At the end of the first day, they extended it to three days without any warning.

“We all panicked as we didn’t have enough food.

Jessica said: “From the three day lockdown it became three weeks and people with kids, elderly without fridges or cookers suddenly realised they did not have enough food.

“They said they would start to deliver food but haven’t done so far.”

Jessica accepts her situation is far more comfortable than that of many Indian nationals, thanks largely in part to the close proximity of her chef brother Alex, who runs a street food business.

But that hasn’t stopped Jessica risking police punishment to secure vital supplies.

“We made a dash for it on the last night of curfew and went to a closed veg store,” she said.

“It was dark and a queue formed.

“We all rushed in like fugitives, grabbed as much veg as we could and rushed home.

“They kept the front shutter closed and someone watched out for police.”

She added: “So far the police have been quite heavy-handed, beating people with sticks that go outside of curfew.

“From our initial total panic we’ve started to accept our new reality.

“Today, after not being allowed out for anything including food for around five days, everyone was suddenly allowed out, and large crowds formed in market places.

“There was huge confusion about times and what was not or was open, so those in the wrong place got given what is called here a bamboo massage, which is in fact a beating with a bamboo stick.

“It’s a very strange feeling when you’re in a country far from home without the choice of leaving.”