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Coronavirus: How do you lock down India’s 1.3 billion people? | World News



India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has locked down the country for the next 21 days after invoking the National Disaster Management Act.

In his address to the nation, he said: “To save India there will be a total ban on venturing outside of your homes.

As per the health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection. If we don’t take care in these 21 days, then the country and your family will go back 21 years.”

Police officers try to stop a motorcyclist at a barrier in India

Fifth of the world’s population locked down in India

Only those involved with essential services are allowed to go out of their homes for work.

Everyone else needs to stay indoors and only venture out to buy essentials like food, milk and medicines.

A lockdown was expected, but not for such a long duration.

After his address there was a spike in panic buying across cities. Long lines at grocery stores and chemist shops were seen late into the night.

There were reports of police using batons to force people not to congregate at shops, and they even closed some of them.

How will the lockdown work for such a large population?

It has been a combination of punishment, legal threat, scaring and cajoling.

The prime minister was firm in his speech, but compassionate.

“You must remember that a single step outside your home can bring a dangerous pandemic like corona inside,” he said.

Some state governments have warned those violating the restrictions would be jailed for a year and their vehicles confiscated.

The chief minister of the southern state of Telangana, K.Chandrashekhar Rao, told the press: “If people will not listen to the police, I will ask for army deployment and shoot-at-sight orders will be issued.”

In Delhi, the national capital, there are police check posts across the metropolis.

The borders have been sealed and every arterial road has police barricades checking identity cards of people.

Those not in essential services who are caught are reprimanded – or worse – their vehicles seized.

Constable Vinod Kumar said that “largely people have adhered to the restrictions, adding: “We believe most whom we think have a genuine problem to be out on the streets, there are a few who lie and we do catch them.”

Fears for the poor – less than 1% GDP spent on health

India comprises 36 states and union territories. Its structure allows state governments to control their own law and order and health, among other administrative departments.

A number of states had already imposed a lockdown even before the prime minister’s announcement.

By Tuesday morning 32 states and union territories were in a complete lockdown, while the remaining had partial restrictions.

Police in Kerala, India have come up with a novel way of educating the public about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Kerala police in hand-washing dance

On Monday, Delhi sealed its borders to outsiders. A curfew pass was needed by those from other states to enter the capital.

Last week, the state of Rajasthan issued prohibitory orders that not more than four people were allowed to congregate anywhere. On Sunday it locked and sealed the state with further stringent restrictions.

Likewise, the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Kashmir and others had almost completely locked down.

International flights were shut last week, while domestic air travel stopped after midnight yesterday.

The country’s largest transporter, the Indian Railways, stopped running trains while the metro train services in cities have also closed.

Interstate bus travel has also ended.

The prime minister has appealed for people to stay put where ever they are and not to travel.

Daily wage workers and homeless people wait for food outside a shelter in Delhi
Daily wage workers and homeless people wait for food outside a shelter in Delhi

There’s growing alarm that the disease will spread into the poorest communities where public health sectors, starved of resources, would struggle to cope.

India spends less than then one percent of its GDP on health.

Almost 70% of the population relies on private hospitals, clinics and doctors – which is a drain on the poor.

Successive governments have vastly ignored health.

A pandemic in the country would have a detrimental effect on the prevailing health infrastructure and its doctors and nurses.

Health activists have criticised the government for not testing enough. Just over 20,000 tests for COVID-19 have taken place. That is about three in every million.

South Korea tests 4,000 people per million and has the capacity to test 20,000 per day.

Health experts warn that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May.

The worst to have been affected are poor, daily wage earners and economically weaker sections.

With the lockdown, these millions of workers now have no where to go. The central government has been criticised for not having planned enough for this section of society.

Some state governments are now providing free meals and shelters for the homeless.

A man feeds monkeys in Ode village, near Ahmedabad
A man feeds monkeys in Ode village, near Ahmedabad

The Delhi government has announced free meals for everyone at all its shelters.

The west Bengal government has said it will provide free food grains to approximately 75 million of its people for the next six months.

India’s economy was slowing even before the pandemic and the last few days have been a bloodbath on the national stock exchange with almost every sector in the red.

The uncertainty has alarmed everyone and no one really knows how long this will last.

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Helen Reddy: Australian singer of feminist anthem I Am Woman dies | Ents & Arts News



Helen Reddy, the singer best known for the feminist anthem I Am Woman, has died aged 78.

Australia-born Reddy died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to a statement from her family.

Reddy had a prolific career and won a Grammy in 1973
Reddy had a prolific career and won a Grammy in 1973

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother,” the singer’s daughters, Traci and Jordan, said.

“She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.”

Reddy moved to the US and had success with the 1971 song I Don’t Know How to Love Him from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. She then signed to Capitol Records.

She had a prolific career with other hits including Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady, Delta Dawn, Angie Baby and You And Me Against The World.

Her TV series, The Helen Reddy Show, provided early national exposure for Albert Brooks and The Pointer Sisters.

Reddy in London in 1978 where she performed at the Palladium
Reddy in London in 1978 where she performed at the Palladium

In the mid-1980s, Reddy embarked on a new career in the theatre, working mostly in musicals such as Anything Goes, Call Me Madam and in Blood Brothers that opened on Broadway and in the West End.

But it was I Am Woman for which Reddy is best known. The song became a feminist anthem and won her the best female vocal pop performance Grammy in 1973.

I Am Woman was also the name of the 2019 biopic about Reddy’s life.

The film’s director, Unjoo Moon, paid tribute on Twitter: “Thank you Helen for teaching me to be strong & invincible as an artist a woman & a mother. You paved the way for so many.

“The lyrics that you wrote for #Iamwoman changed my life like they have done for so many people and will continue to do for generations to come.”

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis said introducing Reddy at the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles was the “honour of my life”.

A message posted by the official Twitter account of 1970s R&B group The Pointer Sisters said: “We are so sad to hear that #HelenReddy has passed away. Our first television appearance was on her show. #RIPHelenReddy Condolences to her family, friends and fans.”

Reddy announced her retirement in 2002 and moved from California back to Australia to be with her family.

At a ceremony in August 2006 Reddy was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame by actress Toni Collette, who described I Am Woman as “timeless”.

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US presidential debate: Trump v Biden – the seven defining moments | US News



The first presidential debate happened overnight, and whether you missed it or want a recap, we’ve rounded up the defining moments and tried to gauge who came out on top.

Here are the seven moments that stood out:

1. Interruptions – ‘Will you shut up, man?’

The early exchanges – and middle and late ones – were notable for the amount of interruptions, mainly from Donald Trump.

At one point the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, seemed to have had enough, telling the president that his campaign team had agreed to the rule that both candidates should have two minutes uninterrupted during each section – and urging the him to abide by it.

By the end of the first of six sections, Joe Biden was already looking weary. “Why don’t you shut up, man?” he moaned.

Joe Biden told President Trump to 'shut up' during an exchange over the Supreme Court

Joe Biden told President Trump to ‘shut up’ during an exchange over the Supreme Court

2. The insults started early, too

“Everything he’s saying here is simply a lie, everybody knows he’s a liar,” Mr Biden said during an exchange about healthcare. He also called Mr Trump “the worst president this country has ever had”.

Not to be outdone, Mr Trump got in plenty of digs as well, firing at his adversary: “There’s nothing smart about you Joe. 47 years, you’ve done nothing.”

Spoiler alert: there’s more insults coming later.

Trump on Biden: ‘There’s nothing smart about you, Joe’

3. It could be months before the result is known

Mr Trump said: “I hope it’s going to be a fair election. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated I can’t go along with that. It means you have a fraudulent election.”

The president also said he would be prepared to go to the Supreme Court – which could lean heavily to the right if his pick Amy Coney Barrett is approved by the Senate.

Mr Biden was more measured: “No one has established at all that there is fraud related to mail-in ballots. He has no idea what he’s talking about.

“The fact is, I will accept it and he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the votes are counted, that will be the end of it.”

US correspondent Cordelia Lynch gave her thoughts: “The hard truth is we might not know the winner of this election for days or weeks after election night.

“Trump’s suggestion we might not know the result for months is more a threat than speculation. It’s going to be an ugly road to the inauguration.”

Both candidates were asked about whether they would accept the election result if the result is delayed

4. Trump is asked to condemn white supremacist groups – but instead focuses on the left. This got a lot of traction on social media

“He doesn’t want to calm things down,” Mr Biden said, adding that the president wanted to “pour gasoline on the fire”.

Asked to condemn white supremacist and militia groups, Mr Trump said: “Sure I’m willing to do that, but almost everything I see is from the left-wing.

“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”

Pressed further, Mr Trump said: “What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name?”

Finally, he said: “Proud Boys – Stand back, stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not right-wing problem… This is a left wing problem.”

Proud Boys, a neo-Nazi organisation, appeared to use Mr Trump’s “stand back, stand by” call in a new logo posted on Telegram shortly after the debate.

President Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have been clashing with Black Lives Matter protesters

5. Inevitably, Trump’s taxes comes up

Asked if it was true that he paid just $750 in income tax in 2016, as reported by The New York Times, Mr Trump said: “I paid millions of dollars in taxes, of income tax.”

“Show us your tax returns,” Mr Biden interjected.

Lynch felt a sense of deja vu: “Trump’s answer on his tax returns is exactly the same as it was four years ago during the debate with Hillary Clinton,” she wrote.

“Then: ‘As soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.’

“Tonight: ‘You’ll see it as soon as it’s finished.'”

How much tax did you pay? Millions of dollars

6. Good news – the US is weeks away from a coronavirus vaccine, according to the president

“The president has no plan, he hasn’t laid out anything,” Mr Biden said of his opponent, pointing out that 200,000 Americans had died during the pandemic.

Mr Trump said millions would have died if Mr Biden was in charge – and claimed his early action to ban travel from China saved thousands of lives.

The president said the US was “weeks away” from a vaccine and his administration had done a “great job”.

7. Insults – part two

The president brought up Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, claiming the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave him millions of dollars and raising questions over his links with Ukraine.

Mr Trump also mentioned Hunter’s drug problems.

“His family we can talk about all night,” Mr Biden hit back, having claimed “it’s hard to get any word in with this clown – excuse me, this person”.

The pair later clashed about Mr Biden’s now deceased son Beau and his military service.

Biden on Trump: ‘You’re a clown’

So who won?

A CBS News instant poll found 48% thought Mr Biden won – 41% Mr Trump.

Many had a different view of the real loser – that being the American people.

“I’m afraid that this feels like the worst presidential debate ever. Substance starved, a playground slanging match,” wrote Lynch.

“It was arguably the most anticipated in 30 years. It was unlikely to be the most consequential. It is most certainly a low point.”

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US presidential debate: Biden and Trump clash on coronavirus and healthcare | US News



President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden began the first presidential debate with heated exchanges over coronavirus and health care.

The two men frequently interrupted each other with angry interjections, with Mr Biden eventually snapping at his opponent: “Will you shut up, man?”

As the discussion about the Supreme Court quickly turned to coronavirus, Mr Trump claimed, without evidence, two million people would have died if his opponent were president.

Live stream and updates from the first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News pleaded with Mr Trump, stating that COVID-19 would be discussed later in the debate.

He then asked Mr Trump about whether he had a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and the president said: “First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s OK. I’m not surprised.”

Mr Biden laughed at his opponent’s jabs, but also appeared to get upset at times.

“Here’s the deal, the fact is that everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie,” Mr Biden said. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”

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