India extends world’s biggest virus lockdown to May 3

first_imgSouth Asian nations have so far been relatively unscathed by the epidemic, with around 10,000 cases and 339 deaths in India, according to official figures.But with some of the most crowded cities on the planet, there are fears that numbers could skyrocket and overwhelm shaky healthcare systems.Some experts have also said that India has not conducted enough tests and that the true number of infections is much higher.Several states including Maharashtra — home to Mumbai and which has the highest number of cases — Tamil Nadu and Odisha have already announced lockdown extensions. India’s poor But at the same time, the lockdown in place since March 25, with strict limits on activity, has been devastating for the economy — and for India’s poor.Millions of daily wage laborers suddenly lost their jobs, forcing hundreds of thousands to travel hundreds of kilometers back to their home villages, often on foot.Some died on the way, while others were shunned by locals when they made it back to their villages. One viral clip showed a group of migrants being hosed down with chemicals.Others have been stranded in cities in cramped, unsanitary conditions where the virus could spread quickly.New Delhi alone is providing hundreds of thousands of free meals. India’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the biggest in the world, will be extended until at least May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday.The current three-week-old lockdown of the nation of 1.3 billion people had been scheduled to end at midnight Tuesday.”From the economic angle, we have paid a big price,” Modi said in a nationwide address. “But the lives of the people of India are far more valuable.” Topics : Snarl-ups Farmers have complained of a lack of workers to harvest crops while snarl-ups of thousands of trucks not allowed to move because of the lockdown have hampered food transport.Farms, still the bedrock of the Indian economy, are heading into their most important harvest time of the year, earning money to finance many villages for months.Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das has called the coronavirus an “invisible assassin” that could wreak havoc on Asia’s third-biggest economy.The national restaurants association, which said its members employed seven million people, warned Monday there could be “social unrest” if it did not receive financial relief.The commerce ministry has also reportedly urged the government to consider opening more activities “with reasonable safeguards” even if the lockdown is extended.Even before the pandemic, the Indian economy was stuttering with unemployment the highest for decades.Some analysts have predicted growth could slump to 1.5-2.0 percent this year — way below the level needed to provide jobs for the millions coming into the labor market each month.Modi’s announcement came as debate rages in countries around the world on how to lift restrictions while ensuring that there is no renewed spike in new infections.French President Emmanuel Macron extended a tight lockdown in France by another month, but Italy and Austria are reopening some shops and Spain is restarting construction and factory work.World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against rushing headlong into lifting restrictions, stressing that only a vaccine can fully halt the spread.last_img read more

Pardew targets more signings in summer

first_imgNewcastle boss Alan Pardew is already planning his summer recruitment drive as he attempts to rid the club of its soft “under-belly”. The 51-year-old was handed an eight-year contract last September – two days before the Magpies embarked on a run of just three wins in 18 Barclays Premier League games. Pardew revealed he was reassured his job was never under threat despite their alarming slide. He said: “It’s rare in football to have the position that I have had, and even with the results I had, the message from upstairs was that I was going to be retained as manager, which was a good feeling for me – perhaps not so much for our fans at times.” Pardew continued: “I hope to repay that in the longer term because obviously I was aware of the problems and I am aware of the problems we still have. We need to strengthen the under-belly of this football club and we need to do that this summer, probably. “If we can do that, then we are going to be well-set for next year because we have got some very good players on our books now.” Ashley funded the January spending spree which saw Pardew recruit five senior players, one of whom – Moussa Sissoko – turned in a match-winning display in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over European champions Chelsea. That was as much an illustration of his continuing faith in the former West Ham boss as it was an admission that the club had got it wrong during the summer with its frugal approach, and Llambias confirmed that on Thursday. He told the Evening Chronicle: “The club has never had stability. It needs it. This is too big a club not to have stability. “Do we want to find ourselves in a situation when we have a manager for 15 or 20 years? Absolutely. If the manager works, we work. You cannot get any better than that. Eventually you will bring to the club what it has been crying out for. Stability is a big thing for us.” Llambias also indicated that Newcastle are likely to concentrate on the European market once again when they look for further reinforcements, with British talent too expensive for their liking. However, that was news to Pardew, who said: “That’s a view that he has – it’s not something that I personally hold. All the markets are open to us and whatever becomes available, we will take the best option we think is there.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Fletcher hopes to serve humble pie

first_img The midfielder may have just been 11-years-old at the time, but he also remembers when former Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen told Sir Alex Ferguson “you can’t win anything with kids” in 1995. Ferguson won the league that year and scooped a further 10 titles after building a team around a group of youth players from the famed ‘Class of ’92’. Fletcher thinks Van Gaal’s squad has a similar look to it as the one that contained the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and a young Ryan Giggs just over a decade ago. “To be honest it felt like that in the dressing room today,” said Fletcher, who played alongside debutants Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard on Saturday. “It did have a feel of that in terms of people looking at the squad and maybe not seeing household names, but these players are good enough and the manager believes in them. “All you need is a platform to go and perform and I’m sure they’ll definitely go and prove people wrong. “This whole club is about bouncing back from adversity.” Van Gaal has lost experienced heads like Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra from his playing squad this summer. But Fletcher thinks the players that remain are strong enough personalities to fill the void. He said: “People talk about the players that have left but I see it in the eyes of the young players, they’re ready for it and determined to show people how good they are and we’re determined to show people how good the team are. “You have to be a big character to play for this club.” McManaman laid into United following their 2-1 defeat to Swansea on the opening day of the season. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid man, who was a pundit for BT Sport at Old Trafford this weekend, claimed Louis van Gaal possesses the worst United squad he had ever seen in two decades. Fletcher thinks McManaman, and United’s other critics, have been desperate to take pot shots at the club as a consequence of their recent success. And the United vice-captain believes the former England international will be eating his words at the end of May. “People have been waiting for an opportunity to have a go at United for years and this is the perfect time (to do it),” the Manchester United midfielder said. “It’s a long season and I don’t think they will be saying those things at the end of it. “I believe we’re going to have a very good season. “All the players believe that too. “Comments like that give us a greater determination, without a shadow of a doubt.” Having been part of the United team that finished seventh last year, Fletcher knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of some scathing criticism. Darren Fletcher thinks Steve McManaman, who branded the current Manchester United side the worst he had seen in 20 years, will be eating a large portion of humble pie come the end of the season. Press Associationlast_img read more