Like TVM, Cochin May Too Go Into Triple Lockdown

Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram was placed under a weeklong ‘triple lockdown’ starting July 6 after several Covid-19 cases turned up without a specific origin of infection. This has led to fears of a local transmission of the virus within the city. The areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation will witness an effective containment strategy devised by the Kerala Police seeking to suspend the movement of the public and allow more time for health officials to carry out contact tracing measures. The ‘triple lockdown’ strategy entails focused interventions by the police at three different levels to minimise the impact of the community spread, if present, or prevent it altogether.

Due to the number of infected people rising, Kochi too may go into a triple lockdown as far the news indicates. The first lock is a general containment strategy to prevent the movement of the people all over the area. Except for one road for entry/exit, all other roads and bylanes leading to the area are shut down using barricades and police officers posted for security. Public transport is suspended. Private transport is allowed only for essential purposes. While grocery, vegetable stores and medical shops are allowed to operate, the public are advised to remain at home and call helpline numbers for doorstep delivery of services. Police officials and volunteers will engage in such services. People stepping out of their homes for essential reasons must carry signed declaration forms stating why they are outside. Police officers will verify such documents and allow them if found valid.

Criminal cases and fines will be imposed if people are found violating the lockdown without valid reasons. Movement of trucks carrying essential supplies, medical personnel, journalists, defence and health personnel, taxis ferrying people from railway stations and airports will be allowed. Government offices, religious places and educational institutions will remain shut.

The second lock is on the specific geographical areas called clusters where primary and secondary contacts of the infected persons are staying in quarantine. These are essentially containment zones where there will be intensified police presence. The third lock involves much more focused intervention on the households of the infected persons and well as those of their primary and secondary contacts. These are persons who are at greater risk of transmitting the virus to a large number of people. While those who test positive are ferried off to hospitals, asymptomatic primary or secondary contacts are monitored strictly so that they don’t step out of home.

Coronavirus Restrictions To Be For 1 Year

As per updates, the Kerala government has decided to bring in new guidelines, regulations for the prevention of Covid-19. Thr restrictions to Remain in Place For Next 1 Year.

1) All people in the state must wear face mask or face cover in public places. Wearing mask in workplaces is also a must in the state.

2) All must maintain strict social distance at public place.

3) Maximum 50 people are allowed to attend marriage celebrations in Kerala.

4) Maximum 20 people will be permitted for funeral in the state.

5) Special permission from local authority will be required for people to hond or attend large gathering.

6) Spitting in public places is strictly prohibited and will be treated as punishable offence.

7) People travelling to Kerala from other states need to register themselves on Kerala government’s Jagratha e-platform.

8 ) Maximum 20 people will be allowed at any shops across the state.

Work @ Home Extended Again

I got the news late last night after a long day at work and while I was lying in bed and trying to watch some Agents Of SHIELD. A colleague in my team messaged me and asked if I had read the news shared in an announcement email sent by our country head. I hadn’t since I had shut down my system at 11pm and so I got the info that they have declared that those of us who are currently working from home (having got systems from the office) will continue to work from home until December 31st, 2020! They will look at the situation after a while and see if they can make a change but it does not look likely.

In the current situation, as the number of infected people starts going up in India and even in my state and city. I just heard that with 241 fresh cases, Kerala has registered a new Covid 19 peak on Saturday with the coronavirus situation taking a turn for worse in state capital Thiruvananthapuram and port city of Kochi. A worried Indian Medical Association (IMA), Kerala chapter has asked the state government to enforce a strict lockdown in containment areas and restrict movement of people to avert community spread. Saturday’s tally is the biggest single-day spike in the state since the outbreak in January. The total number of cases registered so far in the state has gone up to 5,204. 3,050 of these patients have recovered leaving 2,129 active cases. The state has recorded 25 deaths to the disease so far, said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.

The fact that the source of infection is unknown in many cases has worried the state government. The CM said that since the disease was spreading both in urban and rural areas, stricter cubs will be needed to contain it. The government is toying with the idea of enforcing a targeted confinement and triple lockdown in some of the worst-hit areas to check the spread of the contagion. Triple lockdown, a measure considered stricter than curfew allowing only police personnel’s movement, did wonders in containing the spread of the disease in Kasaragod in north Kerala earlier.

Covid-19 Update & Liquor Stores Reopen

After the arrival of non-resident Keralaites from Gulf countries, the Maldives and from hotspots in other states in India in early May, Kerala saw a major leap in the number of COVID-19 infections. An expert committee, led by Dr B. Ikbal, public health expert and member of the state planning board, advised the state government on May 26 to upgrade the quarantine measures from home to room quarantines. The police have also intensified their surveillance of those under quarantine, and have been strictly registering cases against those flouting the rules. On May 26 alone, cases were registered against 3,261 people for not wearing face masks in public places. And between May 4 and May 26, cases were registered against 453 people who violated quarantine rules.

the LDF government in Kerala has found the perfect reason to broad base its liquor sale and completely demolish the no-alcohol policy of the previous Congress-led UDF government. The government opened up liquor sales on 28 May, after over two months of lockdown, but only after it took a number of decisions to augment sale and, by extension, revenue. or one, the state has allowed the retail sale of liquor through private bar counters. As a result, the LDF government has commandeered the support of another 867 sales points, comprising 576 bar-attached hotels and 291 beer parlours. Before the lockdown, the state’s liquor retail outreach was limited to 265 outlets of Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), supplemented by 36 Consumer Federation sales points.

The state government has also enforced a new astronomical tax structure under which tax is levied at 247 per cent of the basic cost of liquor, up from 212 per cent before the lockdown.This is among the highest in the country. For instance, in Maharashtra, which has allowed home delivery of liquor, 72 per cent goes as excise and VAT to the government on every bottle sold.

Covid-19 : Status In Kerala 10-May-2020

Three of the seven new virus cases are those who returned to Kerala from Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Four more people recovered on Sunday, taking total number of recoveries to 489 in the state. The total number of active cases in Kerala rose to 20 on Sunday after seven new Covid-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, said Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. Out of the seven new positive cases reported today, two are from Thrissur and one from Malappuram and they reached the state from Abu Dhabi on 7 May.

The first Air India Express flight carrying Indian citizens from Abu Dhabi landed at the airport here on Thursday night as part of Indian government’s biggest ever repatriation exercise in its history to bring back its nationals stranded abroad amid the international travel lockdown over the Covid-19 pandemic. The Air India Express flight IX 452 with 181 passengers landed at the Cochin International Airport (CIAL) at 10.09 pm on Thursday. There were 49 pregnant women and four infants among the 181 passengers. She said four more people recovered on Sunday, taking total number of recoveries to 489 in the southern state.

Shops remained shut and vehicles were off the roads in Kerala as the state government’s order on total shutdown on Sundays came into force since morning as part of the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Left government had on Saturday night issued an order on “total shutdown across the state on Sundays” while exempting shops selling essential items and essential services. after the state registered cases in single digits, two new cases, expatriates who had returned to the state from Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Saturday, had tested positive on Saturday, causing concern as over four lakh people had registered with the NORKA portal wanting to return to the state. Roads remained empty across the state and shops were closed, except those selling essentials, including milk and medicines. Hospitals, labs and media among others will be permitted to function on Sundays.

Covid-19: Lockdown Status In Kerala

A partial lockdown will continue until 15 May and further decisions can be taken based on the then situation. Districts with no fresh cases can be reopened but with a ban on public transportation and mass gatherings. Inter-state and inter-district travels should also be restricted until 15 May. The demand for testing and PPE kits are skyrocketing though and the state has asked the central government to take the charge in procuring kits.

Following the fresh classification done by the Centre, post May 3rd Kerala will have two districts each in green and red zones, while 10 are in the orange zone. Ernakulam and Wayanad come in the green zone, Kannur and Kottayam are in the red and the remaining 10 districts, including the state capital — Thiruvananthapuram — are in the orange zone.

Kerala government has decided not to open liquor shops in the state at the moment. The decision was taken at a meeting of health department chief secretaries summoned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the relaxations provided during stage three of the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Earlier, the Centre had granted states the permission to open liquor shops. However, the Kerala government decided against opening BEVCO outlets as customers could throng the outlets as bars remain closed. Following this, the CM directed not to open liquor shops in the state.

Covid-19 : Kerala Update 09-0-2020

Well it looks like the lockdown will continue for a while.Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as an “unprecedented” public health crisis in recent history, a Kerala government-appointed task force has pitched for a “phased” and “calibrated” lifting of the national lockdown, saying “time is not yet ripe” for its full withdrawal from April 14.Continuing restriction of large scale movement of people across international and state boundaries was critical and easing it should not be considered unless and until the situation was under control in every state, it suggested. However, the panel said it also felt that prolonged and stringent lockdown would lead to economic hardship, famine and law and order problems, which could undermine both the lockdown and the health management objectives. On Tuesday the state would be able to chart its future course of action only after knowing the Centre’s decision on the 21-day lockdown, imposed to check the spread of the deadly virus.

A phased withdrawal would be sustainable only if there was a steady recovery and decline in the number of cases leading to initial flattening of the infection curve and then gradual tapering of the curve to zero infection cases. The government should advise people of the state that in the event of a resurgence, they should be ready and willing to undergo the rigours of a complete lockdown once again, it said. It suggested that the unit for operationalising a phased withdrawal approach should be a district as it had defined boundaries and an executive magistrate who had the authority to effectively enforce the measures of the phased lockdown.

We might also see, as per the suggestions, wearing masks in public, limiting the number of passengers in public buses to one-third of the capacity of the vehicle, and rapid testing and screening of those who return to Kerala once the state’s borders are reopened. A draft action plan compiled by a 17-member task force has suggested continuing with strict restrictions on commercial, industrial, religious and cultural activity in seven hotspot districts that cover half of Kerala, where the risk of infection is higher. The administration does not believe that major revenue making avenues, such as tourism, alcohol, jewellery and lottery sales, will return to normal functioning anytime soon.

Covid-19 : Kerala Update 30-03-2020

Kerala on Monday reported 32 fresh coronavirus cases, with Kasargod district alone accounting for 17 cases, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. Kannur reported 15 cases, while Wayanad and Idukki reported two cases each, he told reporters here after a COVID-19 review meeting. Of the 32 cases, 17 had come from abroad and 15 infected through contact. The total number of people presently under treatment in the state is 213. At least 1.50 lakh people are under surveillance in the state and 623 people are in isolation wards of various hospitals.

The CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the issue of migrant labourers staging protests at Payipadu on Sunday was being looked into. Over 2,500 people without proper houses had been accommodated at special camps and were being fed, he said. Vijayan urged TV channels to provide free services to help keep people at home. The bankers, he said, had promised to provide banking services and keep ATMs stocked and functioning.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had promised to supply dialysis systems and ventilators in the Kasargode districts, while Unicef had given unsecured payday loan Rs 35 lakh to each of the 14 district collectors, he said.During the day, Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor allocated Rs 1.57 lakh from MPLAD for Covid-19 related activities, including purchase of 3,000 rapid test kits.

Covid-19 : India Update

The number of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases crossed 900 in India with the death toll rising to 19, according to the Union Health Ministry. According to the data, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 775, while 78 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated. The number of coronavirus cases increased to 61 in Uttar Pradesh today after 11 people tested positive for the disease, a senior health official said. The total number of COVID-19 patients in the state is at 181 after 28 new patients found positive today. Till now, a total of 26 patients have recovered or discharged. 104 tests found negative for COVID-19.

India’s trajectory is flatter than that of the US, which is the new global epicentre of Covid-19, with confirmed cases surpassing China. Yet, given the volatility in India’s daily data over the past few days, it is too early to say whether the current trajectory will sustain, rise, or flatten in the coming days. Even going by the current trajectory, India’s case count has doubled over the past four days. If this trajectory continues, the number of cases could shoot up to 10,000 cases over the next 16 days, and India could run out of hospital beds in May.

At 162, Kerala leads in terms of the number of active cases of Covid-19. Active cases exclude deaths and recoveries from the list of confirmed cases. Maharashtra has the second most number of active cases (150), followed by Karnataka (50). At 47 active cases, Telangana has the fourth-highest number of active cases, followed closely by Rajasthan (45). In the north-east, two states have reported Covid-19 cases so far: Manipur and Mizoram, with 1 confirmed case each in both states. Other north-eastern states have not reported any case so far. Jharkhand hasn’t reported any confirmed case either. Kasargod district (45 cases) has reported the most number of cases in Kerala.

Sunday Shutdown Due To Corona Virus

The state of Kerala is on self-imposed 14 -hour Janata curfew is total in the state when three hours of self-isolation has been completed. The curfew began at 7 am and will end at 9 pm. However now it’s been extended till 5am MOnday. All the roads were seen empty in the state and people are busy cleaning their houses as part of containing the Covid-19 spread. All the transport services including KSRTC  kept off the roads and all the shops except emergency services were seen locked. Private taxi and autorickshaws also joined the curfew.  In the front of Secretariat, the agitators also left home giving solidarity to the Union and state governments to combat the disease threat.

I haven’t heard a single vehicle all day long (it’s 6:15 pm now) and I haven’t even heard a single other person other than my parents who I live with. The train services were also cut shortened. In Kochi, the metro rail services are not operating as it already informed that they will not operate on Sunday. However, the government has issued strict instructions to ensure that essential services shouldn’t be hit. The chief minister has said that delivery of milk and water shouldn’t be interrupted and hospital canteens, including those in private hospitals, should remain open throughout Sunday. Petrol pumps would also remain open. The curfew was called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the state government would also join to the curfew as part of the collective effort to combat the threat of virus.

As the day progressed, both the Centre and States took slew of measures to contain the contagion that has already claimed 7 lives even as the number of infected nears 350. While the Center announced suspension of inter-state passenger train and bus services till March 31, Delhi’s CM announced a lockdown from 6AM Monday till midnight of March 31.

The Fate Of Southern Fried Chicken in Kerala

A few years ago I had written in length about the Malayalee’s love for Southern Fried Chicken which led to several KFC styled brands to open up shop in Kochi and other cities in Kerala. KFC & ChicKing, the main fast food chain that was established here in Kerala before KFC finally came to our green state, are thriving but the rest are fading fast. I do not see any Chicken Chicago, 3 outlets of Chickos & the 3 Chicknik outlets are long gone and part of history as is NFC.

We still have Krispy Chick’n, the one outlet in Oberon Mall, There’s something called Magj’s American Fried Chicken but there are no outlets near me, though they do have 2 outlets in the state. SFC Plus, which I love has now only 2 outlets, both of which I have never visited but I go to Lulu mall where one is. They had two other outlets which closed, including one of my favourite places to chill out. Yesterday, checking food for delivery dinner, I was sad to learn that the MarryBrown outlet near to me may also be closing down. I dunno, it’s kinda conflicting news. They do have another outlet a little ways away and I guess I can get them to deliver if needs be.

Now there are a couple of non-big name, single outlet, fried chicken places in the city but short term loans with no credit checks I have never tried anything from them. I will take a shot and see how they taste. Hope they are good too. I like a little competition.

Halloween Here In Cochin

So, Halloween has come and gone. India doesn’t really celebrate Halloween. The only reason we do is because of MNCs and BPOs, the call centers that are doing outsourced work for US, Canadian & UK companies. Most people I know have only heard of Halloween and do not know anything about it other than people dress up in scary outfits (and some none scary outfits) and that candy is passed around for free.

Last night in my office, as they had declared a “face painting and costume” competition, there were people using face paint and colours and trying to look scary. However it looked more like a Joker convention at the office. There were mostly the Dark Knight version of Joker than anything else. One stupid Why So Serious meme and stickers and this generation in Kerala sucked it all up! There were a couple of Harely Quinns out there, both were really well done. There were a few guys in white face paint with black designs on top of the white designs, which I am supposed to think represents evil ala Valak from Conjuring 2.

These were the three main inspirations and some other folks were painted in similar styles just not very conclusive enough to let me know if it was Valak or Joker or a combination of both. Some managed, with the help of black robes and black upside down crosses painted on their foreheads, to look like members of a Black Metal band but that was about it.

We just don’t do Halloween here!

Sunday Morning Shopping In Hypermart

If you want to go to Lulu Hypermart for shopping for groceries and stuff, then go on a weekday in the morning hours before late afternoon. For me, Sunday morning is the day for doing it. I remember going a couple of times in the morning, by 9:45 am and still they have a lot of people in it. The problem is, we don’t have large groceries stores like Walmart or Sobeys or Costco etc etc. We have just this one Hypermart in the entire city and state – well atleast until the Thriuvananthapuram and Calicut malls open.

Anyways, I went yesterday but it was later than I wanted to. I kept the alarm for 7 am so I could leave by 9ish. However since I went to bed only by 2:30 am and slept fitfully I went back to sleep till 8:30 and only left my home a little after 10am. I was in the mall by 10:30 am and quickly had a breakfast of an ice cold latte and a chicken & cheese sandwich at Costa Coffee and then found a cart and went in. It was quite busy but not as busy as it usually is in the evenings. Getting there by 9:30 am is actually much better.

I bought soaps, I bought some chocolate, cheese, apples, plums, eggless mayo, nuts roasted in pepper, cashewnuts, fresh baked cookies, hamburger buns and bread, biscuits, dates, coffee, sugar etc etc. It cost me quite a bit (trust me these things are expensive here) but it was fun and it had been a year since I last went to hypermart. I just wish we had more of them and that they were cheaper.

Malayalam Reality Song Contests

I’ve never been much for Malayalam music & songs for the most part. Throughout my years I’ve liked and loved quite a few songs but I am a rock guy and from my childhood the songs that have stayed with me are mostly not Indian/Malayalam.

While I am not that big on the talent based reality shows that are made around the world I do find the odd one or two that I really like. The Malayalam ones – here’s the problem: It’s like a singing school. There’s not much room or actually none really for improvisation, for singing your own version, making the song your own. If you change even a note while singing, the judges then decend upon you and it become a “class” led by a teacher. They want it note for note and will not adjust for changes. That’s not what music is about for me.

Music is about creativity and emotion. It’s about individuality and the best singers & musicians can take a great song and put their stamp on it, make it their own but yet pay respects to the original singers & musicians. That is usually what draws people to songs or atleast me and others who like the music that I like. There seems to be no room for that here in these contests and therefore, I have no time for them.

Monsoon Is Here

The rains finally hit Kochi and the rest of Kerala this Sunday as the monsoon season is officially declared by the clouds over the state. Technically June 7th was the beginning but over here it really started pouring on Sunday.

Being at home all through the weekend I was watching a movie while in bed in the late afternoon when the rains started and other than a brief respite it has been raining throughout until Monday morning and the sun is mostly blocked by rain clouds. It isn’t raining now at 12 noon but the forecast is for showers and some thunder. Vigorous rainfall is expected across Kerala over the next 4 to 5 days. I just hope that it doesn’t get to be like last year with the heavy rains leading to floods that devastated parts of the state.

However, I must say that I love the rains. Especially when I am in the comfort of my home and in bed and can cozy up in my sheets and it’s raining outside. I didn’t feel like getting outta bed this morning and since I am only due to be at work at 7:30 pm I went back to sleep and that laziness won. A bonus, it’s not sweaty and hot and I enjoy this kinda weather. I do not enjoy getting wet in the rain but yeah I like this weather.

Heat Waves In Kerala

It is so hot. A heat wave alert has been issued for Kerala till Thursday with the mercury financing a computer level witnessing a steady increase over the past few days. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), maximum temperature was likely to be above normal in all districts, except Idukki and Wayanad. The IMD warned that temperature would rise by 4 degrees Celsius in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Palakkad and Kozhikode. Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Malappuram, and Kannur will see a rise of 3 degrees Celsius. As Kerala braces for a sweltering week ahead, two more suspected cases of death due to sunstroke were reported from Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur districts on Sunday.

The number of sunstroke deaths in the State over just the weekend has now risen to three. In Ayira in bad credit unsecure loan Thiruvananthapuram, a 42-year-old man, identified as Karunakaran, was found dead in a field. In Eramamakuttur in Kannur, Narayanan, 67, was found dead near his home. Narayanan was reportedly missing since Saturday. In both cases, sunburn marks were reportedly found on the men, but autopsy reports are awaited to ascertain the cause of death. Though a third death reportedly due to sunstroke was reported from Pathanamthitta on Sunday, the Health Department did not confirm it. Between March 1 and March 24, as many as 125 persons sought medical attention due to sunburn, the DHS reported. Of this, 67 cases were reported in the last one week alone. On Sunday, Nasar Khan, a local RSP leader in Punalur, and a young girl from Kasargod were among seven persons hospitalised due to sunburn.

No wonder I am sweating while sleeping right under the ceiling fan and my sheets are covered in my sweat puddles. The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) said that 4,467 water kiosks have been installed across the State to ensure adequate supply of potable water in water scarce areas. District Collectors have been sanctioned ?50 lakh each for undertaking distress relief measures, including emergency supply of water through tankers and kiosks.

Kerala & The Beef Burger

Well, it’s been a debate that has been going on for many years and will continue to be debated and argued for a long, long time. “Indians do not eat beef” – is what most foreigners think about our dietary habits. Not true! Heck, a lot of Indians also think the same thing. Not true! And when they see us Keralites or some others in India or maybe a few metro cities or the 7 North Eastern states, some of them – the normal ones – shrug it off as a cultural difference and never have a problem with it but some others – the fanatic assholes – start abusing us verbally and shout at us for not being real Indians.

Stupidity aside, Kerala, West Bengal and North-eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. In Manipur, a royal edict banned cow slaughter, but beef is consumed widely. Now, what I find funny is that international brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell etc cannot have beef products in India and Kerala. Instead they have chicken and veggie options. But if you are in Kerala – well I can say for Cochin in particular since I live here – you can eat beef burgers in various places. The Burger Junction, Double Roti, The Grill Lab, Burger Spot, Burger Queen, Burger Hut & Burger Hutz, Chai Kofi, Mash 24, Westley’s (former known as Burgeria) among others all serve beef burgers and some even have pork. No problem in getting our fill of beef burgers over here!

In terms of the best I would say that The Burger Junction is the most awesome with Double Roti come in at second place. The Grill lab is a place that I have only visited once and I would love to try more of their food but I guess they would rank high.