Visitors talk on an intercom at the entrance the Chinese Consulate General in Houston on Wednesday, which has been asked to shut | AP KOCHI l THURSDAY l JULY 23, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION CHINA RED-FACED AS U.S. ASKS IT TO CLOSE HOUSTON CONSULATE The US government on Wednesday ordered China to “cease all operations and events” at its consulate in Houston, Texas STATE DEPT HINTS AT CYBER ESPIONAGE BEIJING THREATENS TO RETALIATE The US decision follows the Justice Dept’s claim that Chinese government backed hackers targeted firms developing Covid-19 vaccines. The US State Dept said the move is aimed at protecting American intellectual property and private information. After the US announcement, Chinese officials were seen burning bundles of documents inside the consulate compound ■ ■ Reacting strongly to the US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin termed it as an “unprecedented escalation” and warned retaliatory measures Wang also claimed the Chinese embassy and consulates in the US had received both explosives and death threats recently | P9 5 CONSULATES-GENERAL CHINA HAS IN THE U.S., BESIDES ITS EMBASSY 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 Daily count crosses 1,000, state considers lockdown Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says final decision after considering all aspects; local transmission accounts for 65% of total cases KERALA COVID DIARY 1,038 cases reported on Wednesday 57 cases with unknown sources of infection 785 of the new patients contracted the virus through local transmission CENTRE RULES OUT COMMUNITY SPREAD New Delhi: Despite Kerala and West Bengal officially announcing community transmission, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said there were no such cases yet in the country. When just 20% of the population is affected, one cannot say there is community spread, said Rajesh Bhushan, officer on special duty in the Health Ministry. A curfew has been imposed in Aluva municipality and six panchayats from Wednesday midnight. P3 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @T’Puram AS THE number of people testing positive for the coronavirus continues its ominous climb, the government is considering a statewide lockdown again. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan revealed the government’s line of thinking on Wednesday after the daily case count crossed 1,000 for the first time. Among the 1,038 new cases, a majority — 785 — resulted from local transmission with the source of infection remaining unknown in 57. While local contact accounted for over 65 per cent of the total cases across the state, it is a worrying 94.4 per cent in Thiruvananthapuram. The CM said a final decision on the proposal for a statewide lockdown will be taken only after considering all aspects. The clarification came as several experts have questioned the efficacy of lockdown, and highlighted its impact on the livelihood of people. With the national lockdown having ended, the state has switched to a strategy of containment zone 600 parents booked for crowding Invest, says PM Modi. Let’s go beyond trade: EAM to US EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi @T’Puram management. The strategy was tweaked slightly when the government imposed a triple lockdown in the capital on July 6 amid a surge in cases. According to the CM, Covid-19 cases have increased steadily but the spread is lower compared to the national situation. Only one death was officially accounted for though reports said that four Covid-19 positive patients died on the day that also saw 272 persons recover from the disease. The total number of Covid-19 patients has crossed 15,000 and the active cases have moved closer to 9,000. While 53 patients are admitted to ICUs, nine are on ventilator support. Daily testing increased to 20,847 samples, taking the total number of samples tested to 3,18,644. Speaking of stringent measures to contain a further spread of the virus, Pinarayi said shop owners will face action -- including arrest -- if they fail to implement social distancing in shops. A special team has been set up to monitor the functioning of shops, he said. ● More on P4 THE Thiruvananthapuram city police on Wednesday registered cases against 600 parents of the candidates who had attended Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical (KEAM) entrance examination in two city schools on July 16, for violating social-distancing norms. Six students and two parents, who had been to the exam centres, have contracted the virus so far. The police move has invited strong reactions including from Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor. P4 RACING ON STATE HIGHWAY Prithvi earns MVD wrath in real life, has Dulquer for company A N I L K U M A R T @ Kochi THE Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) was seen taking Prithviraj for a ride in the hit movie Driving Licence and now he looks to have earned the department’s wrath in real life. But he is not alone and has Dulquer Salmaan for company. The MVD has launched a probe against the two for alleged rash driving using their luxury cars recently. The probe was ordered after a video of the ‘race’ by the actors went viral on social media. Two youngsters who chased the actors on their bike recorded the video and uploaded it. The incident took place on the Kottayam-Kochi state highway. Though the exact day of the race is not known, officials said it may have happened last weekend. ● More on P4 OPPOSITION leader Ramesh Chennithala took a dig at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying he is happy to know that the latter has realised at least now that the Covid fight is a marathon, not a 100-metre race. “The LDF government has become a dismal failure in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. In a way, I’m happy that finally Pinarayi has admitted that combating the pandemic is not like winning a 100-metre race. He claimed that he had won the cup even before the race began. Now he has realised his folly and instead started taking his frustration out on the Opposition which won’t be tolerated,” Chennithala said here. On the surge in the number of Covid cases in the state, Chennithala said “the current recovery rate of 42.9% and the huge increase in the number of patients” is a matter of grave concern. Chennithala also attacked the chief minister by pointing out the “mismatch” between the gover nment claims about infrastructureand and the re● More on P4 ality . 16 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS FEELING THE PINCH Returning to earlier jobs, but it’s a trickle BOSKY KHANA, BIJAY CHAKI, RAJESH ABRAHAM, DHINESH KALLUNGAL, RITIKA ARUN VAISHALI & AIHIK SUR @ Bengaluru/ Bhubaneswar / Kochi / Vijayawada/ Hyderabad “WE are worried about money at the moment, not our health. The poor have no health to worry about,” Ravi Chourasiya, 30, a contract carpenter in Bengaluru’s Cox Town, says stoically “Back home in . Bihar, I have to feed my aged parents, two sisters, wife, two children and a younger brother. There was no source of income, so I had to come back to Bengaluru, even in this dangerous time,” he says. Chourasiya’s story is interchangeable with the majority of lakhs of Indian migrant workers, who without warning found themselves jobless at the end of March and stranded far from their homes. During the lockdown, Chourasiya went to his home state, but the familiar dearth of suitable jobs there has now forced him to return to Bengaluru. Across the South, migrant workers have begun trickling back in to the jobs they held before the Covid-19 lockdown. The workers say they have no choice but to return as government subsidies at their home states are not enough to sustain them any longer. “I earned just `828 from the MGNREGA work I did for a week and received `2,000 as government incentive after two months. How can my family live on such a meagre sum,” asks Narendra, a migrant from Cuttack district in Odisha. There are few jobs to be had in migrants’ native villages. Birendra Das from West Bengal says, “At my vil- lage, shops and restaurants restarted in June first week, but I could not find any job, not even as a cleaner. I tried for nearly a month, but in Vijayawada my boss was ready to hire me back. So though I wasn’t willing to, I returned on June 27,” says Das. But travelling back to states where they had worked is not easy Employ. ers in Kerala say thousands in West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are unable to return either due to a lack of trains or stringent travel restrictions in their home states. “We are ready to meet the initial quarantine and food expenses of the returning workers. But, we are told their home states, especially West Bengal and Assam, are not ready to provide the sanction for travel,” says Shibin Jose, director, KLR Facility Management, a Kochi-based manpower supplier. 195 common biomedical waste treatment facilities are providing services of collection, transportation and disposal of Covid-19 waste from hospitals, isolation wards E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @T’Puram Newly elected Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia (L), who joined the BJP in March, greets his ex-Congress colleauges Ghulam Nabi Azad and Digvijaya Singh before taking oath at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday | PTI fect combination of openness, opportunities and options.” The prime minister said that global economic resilience can be achieved by stronger economic capacities. Earlier in the day, speaking at the summit, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pitched for India-US relations to go beyond trade. “The US really needs to learn to work in a TN, Delhi staring at big Covid waste disposal ‘CM claimed he had won cup. Happy to see him realise it’s a marathon, not 100M’ NEW SEAT, OLD CHEMISTRY THERE has never been a better time to invest in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday invit, ing foreign investments and adding the Indo-US partnership should help the world bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Delivering the keynote address at the US India Business Council-hosted India Ideas Summit virtually, Modi said, “India is contributing towards a prosperous and resilient world through the clarion call of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. There is a global optimism towards India as it offers a per- multi-polar world. It needs to go beyond alliances that it has grown up with in the last two decades. We need to find more common ground. For Indo-US relations we need to think beyond trade,” he said. The minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of China warning India against siding with the US, saying that it was wishful thinking by New Delhi if it hoped that Washington will stand by it. Jaishankar’s views were echoed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also virtually participated in the summit. “We believe this is a new age of relationship between US and India,” he said. CONTINUED ON: P5 R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi In what is expected to become a humongous challenge, certain states with heavy coronavirus load could soon run out of capacity to treat Covid-19 biomedical waste. Any sudden spike in Covid waste generation in those states could make matters critical for their disposal, according to a report by the Central Pollu- tion Control Board (CPCB). The report on generation of Covid biomedical waste (BMW) and disposal submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) says about 101 metric ton per day of Covid related biomedical waste is generated in the country. This is in addition to the normal biomedical waste generation of about 609 MT per day . “Available capacity for incin- eration of Covid-19 biomedical waste in the country is about 840 metric tons against the total generation of about 710 MT per day (101 + 609). It is estimated that 55 per cent of cumulative incinerator capacity in the country is being utilised,” it said. Bihar, Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan, TN, Tripura and Uttarakhand have utilised over 70% of incinerator capacity .
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