REPORT ON PAGE 4
Health Minister K.K. Shailaja on how Kerala tackled Covid-19
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
Covid-19 cases cross 100,000
India’s coronavirus infections have
crossed the 100,000 mark and are
escalating at the fastest pace in Asia –
just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi
further relaxed the nationwide
lockdown to boost the economy.
There have been 107, 328
coronavirus cases and 3,303 people
have died of the virus in the nation of
1.3 billion people till Wednesday.
India is now among the nations
worst hit by the epidemic, with a
28 per cent increase in cases since
India-Nepal dispute over territory
India and Nepal seem headed for a
diplomatic showdown with Nepalese
Prime Minister K.P. Oli declaring in
Parliament on Tuesday that the
Kalapani area in Uttarakhand’s
Pithoragarh district belonged
“indisputably” to Nepal and his
government was going to wrest
control of it with political and
This followed the Nepal Cabinet’s
endorsement of a new map which
showed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and
Lipulekh in Uttarakhand as
Kashmir rebel leader killed
Junaid Ahmed Sehrai, a commander
of the largest Kashmiri militant group
Hizbul Mujahideen and the son of a
top separatist leader, was killed after
a 12-hour gun battle with paramilitary
forces in Srinagar on Tuesday.
Another Hizbul member was
also killed and four police officers
Buyers resume purchase of
Malaysian palm oil
Indian buyers have resumed
purchasing Malaysian palm oil after a
four-month gap following a
The renewed purchases come amid
improving trade relations between the
two countries after the formation of a
new government in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia signed a deal last week to
buy a record 100,000 tonnes of
Railways get state-of-the-art
Indian Railways began operating the
world’s most powerful locomotive on
The 12,000 HP locomotive was
manufactured by French giant Alstom
in collaboration with the Madhepura
Tweeted Union Railway Minister
Piyush Goyal: “Bolstering Prime
Minister Narendra Modiji’s vision of
Make in India, first WAG12B (12000
HP) loco departed from Pandit Deen
Dayal Upadhyay station in Uttar
Pradesh today. Powerful and capable
of high speed, the locomotive is a
significant addition to the Indian
Bus services begin in Kerala with
restricted time schedule
Fifty-six days after operations came to
a standstill, the Kerala State Road
Transport Corporation on Wednesday
morning resumed its bus and water
The state government has cleared
the operation of only intra-district
services, which are available between
7am and 11am and 4pm and 7pm
The strict guidelines include a
maximum of 24 to 28 passengers,
depending on the seating capacity of a
Locust attack in 15 MP districts
Millions of desert locusts invaded
several districts in western Madhya
Pradesh on Wednesday.
They were seen on trees in Rana
Heda and Ranhera villages near
Panbihar in Ujjain district, rekindling
scenes of pre-independence
The state’s agriculture department
said its teams sprayed pesticides
adding that the locusts came from
Tirupati temple to sell laddus
at 50% discount
The authorities at the Sri
Venkateswara temple in Tirupati have
decided to sell the popular “laddu
prasadam” (sacred offering) to
devotees across Andhra Pradesh and
in the capitals of the neighbouring
states at a 50 per cent discount.
Each laddu, weighing 175gm, will
now be sold for Rs25.
The Tirumala Tirupati
Devasthanam took the decision in
view of the continuing uncertainty
over the reopening of the temple.
It was closed two months ago due
to the coronavirus lockdown.
Tripura scientist makes
Tripura University scientist
Harjeet Nath has made a robot from
locally available scrap materials to
assist the front-line health workers in
their fight against Covid-19.
The remote-controlled robot,
costing Rs 25,000, can carry 15kg of
materials and has an operational
range of 20 metres.
It can deliver food, medicines and
other essential items to Covid-19
25 workers killed in accident
At least 25 migrant workers were
killed last Saturday when the truck
carrying them hit another vehicle in
Auraiya district in Uttar Pradesh.
The dead were all men, but
women and children were among
The driver of the truck is suspected
to have fallen asleep.
First giraffe in Bengaluru Zoo
adopted by ex-IAF officer
An animal-loving former Indian Air
Force officer has donated Rs1 lakh to
adopt the first giraffe at the
“Wing Commander (retired)
G.B. Athri has come forward to
support our efforts in conservation by
adopting the giraffe Yadhunandan,”
Bengaluru Bannerghatta Biological
Park executive director Vanashree
Vipin Singh said.
Yadhunandan, who is 1
old, was born to Krishnaraja and
Babbly at the Mysuru Zoo.
The giraffe was gifted to
Bengaluru Zoo on April 24.
Sri Lanka cricket tour on hold
India’s cricket board will wait for
more clarity on international travel
restrictions before making a call on
the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka
India are scheduled to play three
one-dayers and three Twenty20
Internationals, but the series is under
threat due to measures imposed to
Harsh Vardhan set to become
Central Health Minister Harsh
Vardhan is set to become the World
Health Organisation’s executive board
His election is a procedural
formality at the executive board’s
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Health workers and policemen are
the front-line warriors in India’s fight
against Covid-19. But others too are
doing their bit to spread safety
awareness from their homes.
A Chennai-based artist is using
his talent to create images related to
Covid-19 on eggs, pots and bulbs.
Mr Joel Fertician, who hails from
the city’s MGR Nagar, said his
paintings communicate the
importance of using masks and
staying indoors during the
nationwide lockdown. “I am an art
teacher and I have been staying
inside my house since the lockdown
began,” he said.
“I have created coronavirus
drawings with the help of eggs, pots
and bulbs to encourage people to
take all safety measures. I appeal to
people to stay indoors and save our
Some of his works that have
caught the eye depict the
Taj Mahal, “scary corona” and
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Chennai artist paints Covid-19
messages on eggs
A powerful cyclone pounded eastern
India and Bangladesh on Wednesday,
killing at least 14 people and destroy-
ing thousands of homes, officials said.
It left authorities struggling to
mount relief efforts amid a surging
The populous Indian state of West
Bengal took the brunt of Cyclone
Amphan, which barrelled out of the
Bay of Bengal with gusting winds of
up to 185kmh and a storm surge of
around five metres.
The cyclone made landfall at
around 4pm (Indian time) on Wednes-
day near the town of Digha, in West
Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district and
at the northern end of the Bay of
Fuelled by the warm waters of the
Bay of Bengal, Amphan is one of the
most powerful cyclones in decades.
Indian television channels showed
frothy waves cresting sea walls and
trees snapping into pieces.
The winds blew apart some build-
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee said at least 10 people died
in the state and two districts have been
“Area after area has been devas-
tated. Communications are disrupted,”
Ms Banerjee said, adding that, al-
though 500,000 people had been evac-
uated, state authorities had not en-
tirely anticipated the ferocity of the
With rains continuing, she said the
hardest hit areas were not immediately
Central authorities said they could
only make a proper assessment of the
destruction by late Thursday.
“We are facing greater damage and
devastation than Covid-19,” Ms Baner-
jee said, referring to the disease which
has so far killed 250 people in the
In West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata,
strong winds upturned cars and felled
trees and electricity poles.
Parts of the city were plunged into
An official in the adjoining Hooghly
district said thousands of mud homes
were damaged by raging winds.
High winds and torrential rains
pounded coastal villages and cities,
bringing down power lines, uprooting
trees and inundating homes.
“We don’t know how to handle it,”
Ms Banerjee said.
“Almost everything is destroyed in
the coastal villages of the state. It
uprooted many trees and inundated
many roads in Kolkata.”
Authorities had scrambled to evacu-
ate more than three million people
from low-lying areas, but the task was
complicated by the need to prevent
the spread of Covid-19.
Three people died after being hit by
uprooted trees in West Bengal, the
state’s disaster management minister
Javed Khan said.
Two other fatalities were reported
by Indian media, including an infant
crushed when the mud wall of the
family’s hut collapsed in heavy rain in
Amphan is the first “super cyclone”
to form over the Bay of Bengal since
It brought a storm surge – a wall of
ocean water that is often one of the
main killers in major weather systems
– that roared inland for several kilome-
tres, the media reported.
Embankments were also breached
in West Bengal’s Sundarbans delta,
where weather authorities had said the
surge whipped up by the cyclone could
inundate areas up to 15km inland.
The ecologically-fragile region strad-
dling the India-Bangladesh border is
best known for thick mangrove forests
that are a tiger habitat and is home to
around four million people in India.
On the Sundarbans’ Ghoramara is-
land, resident Sanjib Sagar said several
embankments surrounding settlements
had been damaged and some flooding
“A lot of houses have been dam-
aged,” he told Reuters by phone.
Mr Anamitra Anurag Danda, a
senior fellow at the Observer Research
Foundation think-tank who has exten-
sively studied the Sundarbans, said
that embankments across the area may
have been breached.
“The cyclone surge coincided with
the new moon high tides. It is devasta-
tion in the coastal belt,” he said.
Bangladesh officials were particu-
larly concerned about the damage to
the Sunderbans, a UNESCO world
heritage site which they said bore the
brunt of the cyclone.
“We still haven’t got the actual
picture of the damage. We are particu-
larly concerned about some wild ani-
mals. They can be washed away during
a storm surge at high tide,” forest chief
Moyeen Uddin Khan said.
Houses “look like they have been
run over by a bulldozer”, said
Mr Babul Mondal, 35, a villager on the
Indian side of the Sunderbans.
“Everything is destroyed.”
Bangladesh’s low-lying coast, home
to 30 million people, and India’s east
are regularly battered by cyclones that
have claimed the lives of thousands of
people in recent decades.
The 1999 super cyclone left nearly
10,000 dead in Odisha, eight years
after a typhoon, tornadoes and flood-
ing killed 139,000 in Bangladesh.
In 1970, half a million perished.
While the frequency and intensity
of storms have increased – blamed
partly on climate change – casualties
have fallen, thanks to faster evacua-
tions, better technology and more
A woman protecting her son from heavy rain in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Domestic flights to resume
Domestic air travel will resume in India on Monday
after a two-month shutdown imposed to stop the
spread of Covid-19.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Civil Aviation
Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said: “Domestic civil
aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated
manner from 25th May. All airports & air carriers
are being informed to be ready for operations.”
The minister added that the standard operating
procedures for passenger movement will be issued
The government halted all domestic flights –
which ferried 144 million passengers as well as
cargo across the vast country last year – on March
25, days after suspending international flights.
No indication was given when international
travel would resume.
The order to ban local flights grounded 650
planes in the country, prompting industry analysts
at CAPA Centre for Aviation to speculate that
struggling airlines would have to sell shares to
survive. Airlines around the world have struggled
to remain in business, with some shutting down, as
travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus
dried cash flows.
However, India’s decision to resume domestic
flights came as a bolt from the blue for most of the
country’s aviation companies, reported Bloomberg.
Most airlines had suspended ticket sales at least
until June 1 and were staring at a longer stint on
the ground. The short notice makes it harder for
them to prepare for operations, deploy staff,
arrange for protective gear and take other safety
measures against Covid-19.
Many airline executives told IANS that they will
now swiftly upload new ticket bookings itineraries
online representing the new flight schedules from
May 25 onwards.
However, they can do so only after the new
route allocations have been issued and the standard
operating procedures announced.
A limited number of interstate trains – on a
network which normally carries over 20 million
passengers a day – resumed service a week ago.
An additional 200 passenger services – 100 pairs
of trains operating to and from major and some
smaller cities – will resume from June 1, Indian
Railways said on Wednesday.
The announcement comes the same day as the
country of 1.3 billion people reported its biggest
daily jump in coronavirus infections, with 5,611
new cases recorded in 24 hours. It took the total to
106,750, with financial capital Mumbai the
worst-hit city, according to government figures.
More than 3,300 people have died – though
unofficial estimates are higher – and Mumbai
accounts for almost a quarter of the fatalities.
Other major cities such as New Delhi and
Ahmedabad are also badly affected.
AFP, Indo-Asian News Service
Super cyclone worse than Covid-19
May 22, 2020
There were few people around to
admire this colourful artwork of
shophouses and stalls in Little India
with most folks staying home
during the circuit breaker to limit
the spread of the coronavirus.
The mural at 240 Serangoon
Road, titled Layers, has been
created by local artist Shah Rizzal.
It is one of the murals painted for
Artwalk Little India 2018.
The annual public art project
aims to bring to life the history and
traditions of Little India, as well as
the personal stories of the
Through Layers, the artist
highlights the contribution of
brickmakers with his faithful
depiction of the shophouses in
Capturing the Little India
ambience perfectly, it also
highlights the need to preserve
architecture amid rapid urban
When Singapore’s circuit breaker pe-
riod ends on June 1, more businesses
and activities will be progressively
On Tuesday, the Government said
there will be three phases in the
Phase one, from June 2, will last for
at least four weeks as some restrictions
Phase two will last several months
as even more measures are lifted. This
will lead to phase three, which will be
the “new normal” until a vaccine or
treatment is found for Covid-19.
The Straits Times answers some
questions about what you can do from
June 2, when the first phase begins.
Government agencies say some details
are being ironed out.
If I have been telecommuting for
work, do I have to return to the office
from June 2?
Companies must adopt telecommuting
to the maximum extent. Employees
who have been working from home so
far should continue to do so.
They should go to the office only
when the employer can demonstrate
that it is necessary, for example to
access specialised systems or equip-
ment that cannot be accessed from
home or to complete a contract or
transaction that is legally required to
be completed in person and on site.
If I have not been able to telecom-
mute for work during the circuit
breaker, can I return to my workplace
from June 2?
You can return to the workplace if
your company is on the list of busi-
nesses permitted to resume operations
from June 2 and if your employer has
put safe management measures in
Your employer must also demon-
strate the business or operational rea-
sons why you are unable to work from
home despite reviewing and redesign-
ing work processes.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in-
spectors will assess the efforts put in
by companies to implement work-
from-home arrangements, based on
whether it is practical for workers to
work from home, given the nature of
What can I do if my employer has
told me I need to return to the
workplace, even though I have been
telecommuting for work during the
Employees must telecommute where
possible. They can report workplace
safety and health issues to MOM via
the SnapSafe mobile application.
Which businesses that were previously
shut can now reopen from June 2 and
School bookshops and retail shops
selling school uniforms can resume
Selected services, including motor
vehicle servicing, air-conditioner servic-
ing, basic pet services and full hair-
dressing services, can also resume.
Businesses that still cannot resume
include bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres
and cinemas. They are deemed higher-
risk because they draw crowds in an
To manage the risks of transmission,
most retail outlets will have to remain
closed until further notice. Depart-
ment stores will remain shut.
Can I visit the library?
No. All libraries will remain closed
and their on-site services such as book
drops and reservation lockers will con-
tinue to be unavailable. You will not
be fined if you have not returned
material that is due. You will have
three weeks after libraries eventually
reopen to do so.
Will I be able to get a facial, thread
my eyebrows or go for a manicure
from June 2?
No, these services remain closed.
Beauty salons may continue to sell
products online and deliver them to
customers. However, the good news is
that hair salons will be able to offer
colouring and chemical treatments
from June 2.
Can my freelance cleaner or part-time
maid come to my house?
No. Such home-based cleaning ser-
vices are not allowed to resume.
Can I view a showflat?
No. Property viewings still cannot be
conducted in person. But you can do
so virtually. As for property agents,
while they still cannot meet clients
face to face, they can do so where the
clients’ physical presence is legally
required to complete a transaction.
The meeting must take place in the
office of the real estate company.
Can students wear a face shield in-
stead of a face mask when they go
back to school?
Yes, they can choose between a face
shield and a face mask.
Can private home tuition resume?
No. Just as tuition and enrichment
centres remain closed, face-to-face
lessons by private tutors will remain
suspended in phase one. Tutors and
students can continue with online
Are money changers allowed to re-
It depends. Applications to resume
business will be approved by the
Monetary Authority of Singapore on a
case-by-case basis. This depends on
whether a money changer is able to
restrict the number of staff on site to
ensure safe distancing and whether it
can implement safe management mea-
sures at its outlets.
an maid agencies reopen?
No. Maid agencies are not allowed to
reopen their physical outlets. They can
continue to operate online.
Can I send my pet to be groomed?
Yes, basic grooming, animal physiother-
apy and rehabilitation services for pets
can restart on June 2. But there will be
restrictions. Grooming, for instance,
includes the maintenance of skin and
fur, teeth brushing, emptying of anal
glands and medicated baths. It ex-
cludes cosmetic styling of pets’ fur and
spa baths. If you are taking your pet
for physiotherapy or rehabilitation,
you will need a referral from a vet.
All services must be by appoint-
ment. Non-essential services such as
pet-sitting, daycare for animals, walk-
ing, boarding and the sale of pets are
The Straits Times
Outdoor exercise allowed with
people from same household
While Sport Singapore (SportSG) still
encourages people to work out at home,
the national agency said those going out
to exercise can now do so with those in
the same household in its updated
advisory last Sunday.
The previous advisory on April 21
urged individuals to exercise alone and
only in their immediate neighbourhoods.
Maids should still stay home on
Foreign domestic workers should still
stay home on their rest days after the
circuit breaker ends on June 1, the
Ministry of Manpower said on Thursday.
They should also not meet friends or
gather in public spaces during Phase One
of Singapore’s reopening of the
economy, much like the rest of the
Travellers to gradually transit
through Changi Airport
Travellers will gradually be allowed to
transit through Changi Airport from
June 2, as Singapore embarks on its
phased exit from the circuit breaker
The move is part of the strategy to
progressively reopen air transport to
meet the needs of Singapore’s economy
and people, the Civil Aviation Authority
of Singapore said on Wednesday.
NDP 2020: Focus on celebrating
This year’s National Day Parade (NDP)
will focus on allowing Singaporeans to
celebrate in their homes, instead of at a
central location like the floating platform
at Marina Bay.
Unlike previous parades, Singapore’s
55th birthday bash – which features the
theme Together, A Stronger Singapore –
will see many parade segments moved
to the heartland and streamed live on
TV as well as Internet platforms, said the
organising committee on Wednesday.
32 couples tie the knot via
Thirty-two couples got
married via video link on Wednesday
– the first group in Singapore to ever
In early April, it was reported that
solemnisations that were scheduled
during the Circuit Breaker have to be
postponed, with appeals heard on a case
by case basis.
When the laws were changed to allow
for solemnisations via video links
beginning on Wednesday, 32 couples
decided to take the option.
The 32 couples include both civil
and Muslim marriages, said a Ministry
of Social and Family Development
What you can and cannot do from June 2
A walk through art in Little India
May 22, 2020
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