CHENNAI l TUESDAY l APRIL 21, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION CHINA BEGINS TESTING OF ITS OFFICIAL DIGITAL CURRENCY With the use of physical money declining owing to concerns of possible infection, China has accelerated its digital money plans BANKS TO DO TRIAL RUN WITH END USERS According to reports, the trial run will be piloted within a small range of banks and end users, and spread to a wider range with an improved technology and system. The values of the digital currency will be equivalent to paper notes and coins in circulation, says the Digital Currency Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China ■ DC/EP COVID LIFELINE FOR CRYPTOCURRENCIES? ■ ■ With cash transactions dropping amid Covid-19 restrictions, use of digital money, including cryptocurrencies, has gone up After SC quashed RBI’s ban, crypto trade has seen traction in India China’s move comes days after Facebook-backed Libra scaled back its ambitions to become a global currency THE DIGITAL MONEY IS NAMED ‘DIGITAL CURRENCY AND ELECTRONIC PAYMENT’ CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Centre airdrops teams to check lockdown violation in 4 states US oil @ -$3.7 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi US oil prices on Monday went past their lowest point in history into negative territory At . the time of going to Press at 11.50 pm, the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery was at (-)$3.70. In other words, if you were to book a barrel, the oil company would pay you $3.70 to cart it off. Weird as it might seem, that was the reality on the Canadian market as well. Reason: with production continuing unabated without demand, there was no storage capacity left. Also, a futures trading scandal brought down one of the largest commodities traders – Singapore-based Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd. The steep fall in crude prices was driven by investors closing out their positions ahead of the May contract expiry on Tuesday Investors . left holding the contracts will have to take physical delivery as storage has completely gone out of control. Meanwhile international benchmark Brent crude, which has already rolled to the June contract, dived 6.2% to $26.35 per barrel. P10 DOUBLING RATE SLOWS DOWN While India’s doubling rate for the week before lockdown was 3.4, it improved to 7.5 for the week ending April 19 Jammu & Kashmir Ladakh 11.5 days 26.6 days Delhi 8.5 days Himachal Pradesh 24.5 days Uttarakhand 13.1 days 25.8 days Bihar 16.4 days Chandigarh 25.4 days Odisha 39.8 days Haryana Chhattisgarh 21 days 13.3 days Karnataka Andhra Pradesh Telangana 9.2 days 10.6 days Kerala 9.4 days Tamil Nadu 72.2 days 14 days Less than 20 days Andaman & Nicobar lslands 20-30 days 20.1 days More than 30 days Three cheers Goa clean All coronavirus patients in Goa have been discharged from hospital after recovery. Goa now has no active case Following much ruckus, the doctor’s body was buried at the Velangadu burial ground on New Avadi Road in Chennai | P JAWAHAR SAD END FOR A SAVIOUR 1 2 3 4 Simon Hercules was admitted to a private hospital in Chennai on April 8 with COVID-19 and died on Sunday Officials suspect he could have caught the infection from a patient. His daughter also tested positive A mob protested burial of the body and attacked officials and civic body staff, leaving them bleeding The doctor’s friend said with moist eyes that the body was quickly buried with police protection He worked all his life for others, yet didn’t get a decent burial S I N D U J A J A N E / O M J A S V I N M D @ Chennai Assam 26.6 days Punjab Six high-powered teams rushed to 10 districts in Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh; Opposition-ruled states call it unilateral, demand explanation Mahe (Puducherry), Kodaggu (Karnataka) and Pauri Garhwal (Uttrakhand) have not reported any fresh cases during the last 28 days, thus moving to the green zone Positive side 59 districts in 23 States/UTs have not reported any fresh cases since the last 14 days. The latest entrants to the list are Dungarpur and Pali in Rajasthan, Jamnagar and Morbi in Gujarat, North Goa in Goa and Gomati in Tripura THEY put their lives at risk to save their patients. They put their families at risk to protect the public. And yet, when they die doing their job, we struggle to give them a decent farewell. In the third-such incident, the mortal remains of a 55-year-old doctor who died of COVID-19 had to be carried from one cemetery to another, as mobs gathered protesting against the burial. The deceased, Dr Simon Hercules, was a neurologist, and chairman of New Hope Hospital. He was admitted to a leading private hospital on April 8, with COVID-19, and died on Sunday Officials suspect he could have caught the . infection from a patient. His 27-year-old daughter, also a doctor, has tested positive and is undergoing treatment. Soon after his death, corporation officials prepared the TP Chatram burial ground in Kilpauk. However, close to 40 residents assembled there and staged a protest. As they refused to relent, officials had to look for a new burial ground. Subsequently, they zeroed in on the Velangadu burial ground on New Avadi Road. As per protocol, a JCB was engaged in digging a 12-footdeep pit to bury the body Hearing the sound, a mob of 70 . gathered armed with sticks and stones. “They attacked us viciously, leaving the corporation staff and ambulance drivers bleeding,” says Dr K Pradeep Kumar, a friend and colleague of Simon. A few stones also hit the dead body, claims Pradeep. Fearing for their lives, the group fled the scene. “As the drivers felt giddy, I stopped my car on the road and drove the ambulance, with glass shattered all over, back to New Hope,” says Pradeep. They went back later with police protection, and buried the body in haste. “There was no JCB driver this time. We had to fill the pit with our hands. Watching us struggle, a few policemen came to our aid. I shudder thinking of it now. I wish even my enemies don’t face such a situation,” says Pradeep. Early on Monday morning, the police arrested 20 people for attacking the funeral ceremony . P2,7 Palghar lynching: Two cops suspended E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Mumbai The Maharashtra government on Monday suspended two policemen for dereliction of duty in connection with the lynching of two seers and their driver last week in Palghar. Warning against giving the brutal attack a communal twist, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said 100 people have been arrested and the case handed over the CID. The two saints, Kalpavrishka Giri Maharaj (70) and Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) of the Juna Akhara, along with their driver Nilesh Telgade (30) were lynched on April 16 around midnight. “I got a phone call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah. I informed him of the ground reality ,” Thackeray said, adding that he requested Shah to take action against those spreading communal spread through social media. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, too, called him to enquire about the incident. Explaining how it happened, Thackeray said the trio from Mumbai wanted to go Gujarat for a funeral. They went via Trimbakeshwar to Palghar Dahanu and Dadar Nagar Haveli. “But Dadar Nagar Haveli authorities did not grant entry So they came back. While re. turning, villagers of Gadchinchale, 110 km from Palghar attacked them.” A mob stopped their car and beat them to death in the presence of police officials. Kerala U-turn after MHA’s objection After the Centre’s rap, the Kerala government on Monday decided not to allow plying of buses in cities, opening of restaurants an pillion riding on two-wheelers even as it asserted that there will not be any compromise on precautions Mamata hits out at Centre, writes to PM West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Centre’s move to assess the implementation of the ongoing lockdown is unilateral and not desirable | P7 S A N A S H A K I L @ New Delhi WORRIED over multiple violations to the lockdown measures in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Centre has rushed six inter-ministerial teams to 10 districts of these states for on-the-spot assessment. Such incidents could pose a “serious health hazard”, the Centre warned. The central teams will issue necessary directions to state authorities for remedial measures and report back to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The teams, led by officials of additional secretary rank, have been dispatched to Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra) and Kolkata, Howrah, East Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri (West Bengal). The Centre issued identical orders to the four states saying that many incidents of violence against Covid-19 frontline healthcare workers, largescale violation of social distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas, had been observed. The MHA said large-scale violation of social distancing norms had been observed outside banks, PDS shops and in market places. Besides, movement of private and commercial vehicles with passengers in urban areas had been observed, it added. Such violations in h o t s p o t d i s t r i ct s, emerging hotspots with large outbreaks and clusters pose a serious health hazard, not only to the local population but to those living in other parts of the country as well, the MHA noted. According to the Union health ministry data, there were 4,203 cases with 223 deaths in Maharashtra, 1,407 and 70 in Madhya Pradesh, 1,478 and 14 in Rajasthan, and 339 and 12 in West Bengal as on Monday . In his communication with the states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also quoted Class 10 exams will be held: Minister The govt will not cancel Class-10 examinations, as it’s critical for students. School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan told reporters on Monday that more details will be released after May 3. No decision will be taken on this until the lockdown is lifted | P4 FULL COVERAGE: P5,7,8,9,10 43 cases in TN; team formed to prevent row during burial Rescue TN fishers, EPS urges Centre CM Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday urged External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to make arrangements for food and other basic needs of around 1,000 Indian fishermen (including 650 from TN) stranded in Chiruyeh, Kish, Lavan, BandareMogham, Asaluyeh and other places in Iran. Palaniswami recalled his letter sent on February 28 asking to provide all support to the fishermen and also to make arrangements for their safe and immediate return to India. the Supreme Court’s observation that the top court all state governments should faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Centre in letter and spirit. Bhalla also wrote to the Kerala Chief Secretary about the state’s decision to allow opening of restaurants, barber shops and MSME industries, and bus travel. The Home Secretary said that state government’s moves amount to dilution of the lockdown guidelines. However, the Centre’s decision evoked sharp reaction from most states. While leaders of the Vikas Agadhi government in Maharashtra questioned the intention of the Centre in “targeting non-BJP ruled states”, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the problem of shortage of food grains and movement of migrant workers could have been avoided if the lockdown had been properly thought out. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami chairing a meeting to review the recommendations of an expert panel, in Chennai on Monday Restrictions in TN will stay till May 3, says govt EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai WITH no immediate signs of COVID-19 backtracking from the State, the government on Monday said restrictions currently in place will continue till May 3 as there is a need for intensification of steps to prevent the spread of the infection. However, exemptions already given to essential services will continue. According to an official release, the nature of infection will be reviewed again and if infection recedes, further decision on restrictions will be taken after consulting the 21-member experts’ committee constituted by the government. The panel, headed by Finance Secretary S Krishnan and constituted on April 16 to evolve strategies for phased removal of restrictions, submitted its report to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Mon- day. A high-level meeting chaired by Palaniswami studied the recommendations and decided not to relax the norms till May 3. The announcement came at a time when there were expectations about relaxation of norms following the Centre’s announcement that restrictions can be relaxed from April 20 and State governments could decide on which factories, commercial establishments and services could be allowed. The release said Karnataka, Punjab, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gurjarat and Delhi had already decided to continue the restrictions considering the spread of the virus. Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, later in the day issued , a GO saying, “The relaxations to be considered after April 20 suggested by the Government of India on April 15 will not be made applicable in Tamil Nadu.” EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai THE State confirmed 43 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and two deaths, including a doctor who died on Sunday taking the , tally to 1,520 and death toll to 17. Among those who tested positive are two Bangladeshis, a journalist, a sanitary worker, and two persons, who returned from Varanasi, and quarantined at Tiruvallur. The other man who died is a 57-year-old resident of Kelambakkam. He died at a private hospital on Monday . On the brighter side, as many as 46 patients were cured and discharged from hospitals on Monday A total of 457 have so . far been cured and discharged. The State currently has 1,046 active cases. Speaking to reporters on the issue related to the burial of the 55-year-old neurosurgeon, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said, “To prevent such incidents in future, we have constituted a team comprising police, revenue and local body officials. Before the burial, proper coordination among officials will be ensured to prevent law and order issues. Residents will be infor med in advance and the body will be buried with due respect.” FIRST DAY BLUES Tentative start to activity as industries short of workforce, wary of market access curbs EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi PARTS of India on Monday emerged from its self-imposed cocoon as the hard nationwide lockdown was selectively relaxed, but there was no sudden spurt in activity since the ways and means of going about it were still to be put in place. In Uttar Pradesh, while highway construction activity re- sumed, work crawled in nonessential industries, busy as they were in seeking permissions and passes for the workforce. “Those units that can house the labour force within their premises would be allowed to function. However, 19 hotspot districts will continue to observe lockdown,” said Additional Chief Secretary home, , Awanish Awasthi. In Punjab, which changed its tough lockdown extension stand and decided on partial relaxation, many industrialists were wary of resuming operations because they were unsure of reaching national markets to sell their products. During the lockdown, around 2,150 industrial units manufacturing essential goods were functioning. “Now more industrialists will seek permission. It all depends on them and the Migrant labourers return to work in Coimbatore on Monday | A RAJA CHIDAMBARAM availability of labour,’’ said a senior officer of state industries department. R S Sachdeva, mentor of Punjab chapter of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry , said, “Senior officers of the industries department assured us that if any case of coronavirus is detected in a factory, no case will be registered against its owner. But the factory will cease to operate.’’ In Haryana, too, factory owners were reluctant to begin operations due to problems of market access and manpower movement. Similar reports came in from other states like Assam and Uttarakhand. Likewise in Bihar, industrialists rued that lack of raw materials and the non-availability of workers as bottlenecks for resumption of production. N K Aggarwal, president of the Hajipur Industries Association, said: “We don’t have sufficient workers in units to resume production. Many of them have gone home and refused to return till the pandemic subsides.” In Jharkhand, though the medium and small scale industries and the real estate sectors were happy to restart operations, they said it will take over a month for full production.
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