Price gouging, shortages, hoarding, cheap chicken: The story of Coronavirus in India

Vehicles are out in Kolkata

By Krati Puwar in Noida, Utttar Pradesh

UPDATE, Tuesday, 24 March: The fear of the Corona Virus has caused people to lock ed themselves in their houses after Gautam Buddh Nagar was put under lockdown with 74 other districts on Sunday until 31st March.

The streets are empty with no autorickshaws and cabs available. Even metro services are shut until March 31. People with private vehicles are allowed to go and only if they have emergencies, belong to emergency services, or grocery shopping to do.

The markets have a few grocery shops opened and only one or two pharmacies are assisting people in different localities. Many people are also complaining about the shortage of vegetables in the market. In the evening today, for example, ladyfingers were not available with the vendors in Sector 62.

Today, India Today reported that 96 FIRs and as many as 2000 challans were issued against people violating the lockdown.  On Monday, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Adityanath Yogi, ordered to seal any borders adjoining the State. 

Times of India reported that the Yamuna Expressway had been shut.

By Meenal Vashisht in Delhi

When China shut down (because of the discovery of a strange virus killing people in Wuhan, China), the whole world turned towards India, says S. Chakrabarty, 24, son of a Textile Exporter.

But, as it turns out, that is no solace because Coronavirus spreading with rapidity across the world means there are no exports, he said.

Chakravarthy is one of the many in Delhi affected by the Coronavirus. In Delhi, shops are closed, the streets are empty as fears of the Coronavirus epidemic sweeping the world drives people in doors. But banks are working, the appellate courts are working,

Paranoia reigns as page long Whatsapp forwards make the rounds.

By Keerthi Krishna in Chennai

Nobody is playing cricket on the streets and playing fields of Chennai. In a cricket-mad city and country, that is saying something.

The homeless have been moved to shelters. Schools, colleges, temples, gyms, shopping malls and cinema halls have been shut. Chennai is under lockdown.

UPDATE, Tuesday, 24 March: 

A poster warning of potential infections. Photo courtesy Manoj Kumaran via Keerthi Krishna.

By Neil Cornelius in Chennai

 

UPDATE, Tuesday, 24 March

Greater Chennai Corporation vehicles spraying a street in Adambakkam, Chennai with chlorine and water in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Video Neil Cornelius

UPDATE, Tuesday, 24 March

Police started chasing people back home even before the curfew the began. The curfew was meant to start at 6pm at Chennai but the police started chasing people away from 3pm. Two students from Chennai were hit by the cops in Velachery.

 

Picture by Neil Cornelius

Saturday, 22 March: Wholesale poultry dealers face a peculiar crisis due to the Corona virus scare as chicken prices plunge to near lows amidst rumours that the corona virus could be passed on to humans when they consume an infected chicken.

“The wholesale price of Chicken has gone down from Rs. 100 per kg to a mere Rs. 10 per Kg in a matter of three weeks,” said K. Ahamad, who works at SSR centre which sells chicken wholesale.

 

By  Krithi Kannan in Chennai

According to a press release by the Indian Railways a total of 64 services that were to be operated from the Chennai central to Egmore and various parts of the city have been cancelled.  R. Manikandan an auto driver says – “due to the corona virus scare, we are hardly getting any customers. Despite this, we still have to pay our rent and electricity bills.”

Santosh Kumar the manager at Nilgiris says that people are thronging the store and the line is extending to outside the store. As a result of which only ten people are being allowed into the store at a time. R. Ezhumalai, a resident of Teynampet complains that Nilgiris has run out of pastureized Amul milk.

The manager of Pazhamudir Nilayam, T.Nagar says that due to the overcrowding of people, he and his staff are finding it difficult to manage the onslaught of people.

By Megha Mallick in Kolkata

 

 

UPDATE, 27 March: A Mumbai resident was allowed by the Maharashtra government to travel to Kolkata in order to perform his father’s last rites, amidst the 21-day long national lockdown imposed in the country due to the coronavirus scare. His father, an advocate at the city High Court, passed away yesterday. The son entered Chhattisgarh this morning. He is expected to reach Jharkhand this evening and rest at his co-traveller’s house. (News18.com)

Meanwhile, a number of people have been arrested by the police across the city for not abiding by the lockdown orders. 18 people from the south-west and nine from the east division have been arrested. Till now, ten people have been infected by the virus in the state, the last being a 66-year-old man from South Kolkata. (Firstpost)

 

Vehicles are out in Kolkata

The biggest difference the spreading Coronavirus pandemic (3,39,000 cases globally at 2.32 PM) is that some people in Kolkata got to buy chicken at Rs40 a kilogram.

Apart from hoarding (some shopkeepers report selling three month’s supply at once) and price gouging, not much appears to have changed in Kolkata. The streets are as busy as usual.

 

 

By Manthra Koliyer in Mumbai

The capital of the state (Maharashtra) with the most cases of Covid-19 is currently under lockdown.

 Platform tickets, which earlier cost Rs 10 now cost Rs50, as the government battles to reduce the number of people travelling. 

The Dadar and Mumbai Central station, usually the most crowded stations in Mumbai’s suburban railway, wear a deserted look.

Streets and vendors at the flower market in Dadar have no customers.

At Breach Candy, most of the stores are still working, mainly The Nalli silk Sarees store, Assure and even Ramanlal Vitthaldas (sweets store). The iconic Swami Narayan Temple and Mahalaxmi temple have remained shut. 

Indrajit Kumar, the manager at Reliance fresh, says that there is a huge demand for ready to eat packages among customers. Products and essentials such as grocery at Reliance fresh are sold off even before 11 in the morning these days. 

Bhulabhai Desai road has four chemists within 500 metres, and all of them have customers at all times. The iconic Gudi Padwa rally that takes place at Girgaum has been called off since section 144, which prohibits the gathering of more than 50 people, has been imposed. 

 

Mariah Dins in Kochi

UPDATE, 27 MARCH 

Kochi, Kerala: Kochi witnessed a complete lockdown on 24 March, the first day of the curfew. Police today chased away people and closed down shops which were not included in the essential services. Supermarkets and medical shops were allowed to be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Restaurants were allowed to do home deliveries. The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, in a press conference confirmed 14 new positive cases of COVID-19 today. Six from Kasargod, two from Kozhikode and one each from Ernakulam, Malappuram, Kottayam, Palakkad, Alappuzha and Kottayam. This makes a total of 105 cases in Kerala.

Holy Mass at the author’s house Photo by Mariah Dins

Kochi, Kerala: St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica on Saturday shared a YouTube link to all its members through Whatsaap. Sunday mass had been canceled and the flock were urged to pray from their homes.

That was Saturday, 21 March. The number of active cases were still 67 By the following Tuesday, the cases had ballooned to 104.

“During this period of crisis, we urge people to pray and depend on God. It is also important to obey the instructions by the government. By maintaining social distancing we are protecting ourselves and also others from this pandemic. Therefore we are not allowing anybody for mass gatherings inside the church,” said Fr. Joseph.M.

He added that this is a situation where people will move more close to God and would want to visit the church often. But they need to understand that God will hear you wherever you are. Right now it is important to listen to the health officials and maintain social distancing.

Various news organizations, including BBC and The Hindu have lauded the state’s attempts to arrest the growth of the disease. But with people in a lockdown and movement restricted, it is hard to feel very proud now.

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