Near, yet so far
Staff and residents of an elderly care facility in Budapest cheer as musicians from Hungary’s MAV Symphony Orchestra drive around in cars and blast out their past performances of famous works, including Johann Strauss’ waltzes, over loudspeakers. At Tampa General Hospital in Florida, US, a husband and wife who are anaesthetists on covid-19 airway teams prepare for the start of a challenging day at work.
Make all covid-19 tests free, Supreme Court tells govt
The Supreme Court has issued interim orders directing the government to make covid-19 tests free of cost in both government and approved private laboratories. The tests were free in government labs, but private labs could charge up to ₹4,500, an amount the court said “may not be within means of a large part of the population”. Responding to another petition on safety of health workers, the court observed on Wednesday that healthcare and other front-line workers fighting the covid-19 pandemic are “warriors” who have to be protected.
UP govt seals hotspots in 15 districts
The Uttar Pradesh government has sealed hotspots in 15 districts including Noida and Ghaziabad which are part of Delhi-NCR, after coronavirus cases crossed 300 in the state. Residents in these hotspots will not be allowed to leave their houses and groceries or other vital supplies will be home delivered. The announcement set off panic buying across Noida and Ghaziabad with long queues forming outside grocery stores. The Centre is to have a meeting with the states on 11 April to decide on whether to extend the lockdown or lift it in phases after the original 21-day period ends on 14 April.
One of worst-hit states reports best recovery rate
Kerala, one of the states first and worst affected by the covid-19 pandemic—more than 300 people have tested positive—has also reported a better recovery rate. At 71, it has the highest recovered covid-19 patients in the country, and two have died so far. State finance minister Thomas Isaac tweeted that Kerala had moved to 8th place among states with highest active covid-19 cases, after being at the top spot a fortnight ago. It still has 263 active cases, and new ones are coming up. Kerala has been testing aggressively, taking over 9,000 samples so far, which is among the highest in the country.
Recovery rate in Kerala double that of Telangana
Among the eight states with the highest number of covid-19 cases recorded so far, Kerala has the highest recovery rate at nearly 21%. A total of 71 patients of its 330-plus confirmed cases have recovered. Telangana’s recovery rate is 9.6% (35 of the 364 confirmed cases have recovered) and Maharashtra, now the worst-hit state with over 1,000 cases, has a recovery rate of 7.8% (79 of 1,018).
Air pollution linked to higher Covid-19 death rates: Study
Coronavirus patients in areas with high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients who lived with cleaner air, researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found. The study covered 3,080 US counties, and found that higher levels of PM2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. It also said that slightly cleaner air in Manhattan in the past could have saved hundreds of lives. The study is part of new research on whether long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to covid-19.
Half a million Chinese companies close in first quarter
More than 460,000 Chinese firms closed permanently in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic battered the world’s second largest economy, South China Morning Post reports. Over half of these operated for under three years, corporate registration data shows. The closures underline the challenge China faces as it tries to revive its economy, which is at risk of contraction for the first time since 1976. Fewer new businesses are also opening up: From January to March 2020, around 3.2 million businesses were set up, a 29% drop from the same period in the previous year.
Unemployment rises, 400 million may go into poverty, says ILO
Coming on the back of the CMIE estimates that say unemployment has risen to 30.9% in April, up from 8.4% in mid-March, the UN’s International Labour Organization has said the coronavirus crisis may push 400 million Indians in the informal sector deeper into poverty. In two weeks of lockdown, about 50 million jobs might have been lost, based on rough calculations from the CMIE data. ILO said the pandemic is likely to wipe out 19.5 crore full time jobs or 6.7% of working hours globally in the second half of the year.
Kenyans run half marathons to compete in virtual race
A group of 30 elite Kenyan runners spread across the country ran half marathons all by themselves in a virtual race. The runners, 20 men and 10 women, had been training for the Wuhan Marathon that was to be held this week before it was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. For the CoronaRun in Kenya, runners started their individual races at 8am, using their GPS watches to record their times. Edwin Kirwa won the men’s race when he finished his 21-kilometre course with a time of one hour, one minute and 52 seconds, a personal best.
What we’re watching in lockdown
Okay, so we may seem a bit hung up on Kerala today, but really, this video tweeted by the state’s police of people running for cover from a drone tracking those violating the lockdown is one of the funniest we’ve seen in a while. It’s set to commentary taken from former cricketer Ravi Shastri’s “tracer bullet challenge” and features Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Botham and others. Keep an eye out for the guy taking cover behind a coconut tree.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us?Write to us at businessoflife@livemint