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Coronavirus Diary: Can Kyrgyzstan Survive This?

The government is betraying signs of not knowing quite how to run a state of emergency – especially one instated to defend a population against an invisible virus.

Nurjamal Djanibekova/Eurasianet

Police and Medical Staff at the Quarantine Post in Osh were Provided with Full Protective Suits: Photo Courtesy: gov.kg

“If you don’t have your ID with you, they’ll throw you into prison,” one elderly gentleman warned as he strolled toward me from a checkpoint in downtown Bishkek. 

Ever since officials declared the coronavirus state of emergency here in Kyrgyzstan, soldiers and police have been patrolling the streets. People on the streets must present them their papers and a self-declaration form showing where they have come from and where they are headed, and why.

“Good day! I am Inspector Daniyarova,” one of them, a 30-something, said to me as she asked for my ID. She copied out the details into a notebook and, after the check, added: “We would ask that you not leave home unless necessary.” 

Behind me in line was a young woman who had obviously just been to a party, although all bars, clubs and restaurants should by rights be closed because of the state of emergency. She wore a black dress, a fur coat, makeup and a tired expression. The woman said she lived nearby and had just gone out for groceries and forgotten to bring along her ID. 

Daniyarova instructed one of the soldiers to take the woman to her apartment and check her documents there. As they began to make their way, the woman tried to sweettalk the solder into letting her go, but he, in violation of health preservation protocols, grabbed her by the arm to make sure she didn’t make a run for it.

Seeing this, another woman in line said, appalled: “Until this I had felt physically unwell from self-isolation in my apartment. Now I’ve come out onto the street, I feel mentally unwell.” 

The government is betraying signs of not knowing quite how to run a state of emergency – especially not one instated to defend a population against an invisible virus.

The checkpoints are sporadically positioned and are not up to fully controlling people’s movements. Then again, they are sufficiently restrictive to cause headaches for businesses.

Earlier this week, workers from an important flour milling plant were unable to get to work because they had not been issued the special passes needed to get through the checkpoints. The company, Akun, had been working day and night to ensure Kyrgyzstan does not go short of food at a time when countries are carefully and jealously weighing up whether they should be allowing their own reserves to be exported.

The way Akun works in normal times is that it sells the wheat bran left over from the grain it mills to farmers as livestock feed. To avoid storage space being taken up, this material must be collected regularly. But the farmers are struggling to get through checkpoints too. And now there is little space for the sacks of flour. 

“If the government does not fix this problem urgently, the farmers are going to be in big trouble, and that is going to push up the cost of meat,” the company said in a statement.

The way Akun works in normal times is that it sells the wheat bran left over from the grain it mills to farmers as livestock feed. To avoid storage space being taken up, this material must be collected regularly. But the farmers are struggling to get through checkpoints too. And now there is little space for the sacks of flour. 

“If the government does not fix this problem urgently, the farmers are going to be in big trouble, and that is going to push up the cost of meat,” the company said in a statement.

On the same day that Akun issued its plaintive complaint, the government pledged that anybody supplying the capital with essential goods would have their problems addressed. Sure enough, trucks carrying groceries to stores have been exempted from the requirement to display a pass. 

The thinking about logistical problems has been, to put it mildly, half-cocked.

On March 22, the authorities halted public transportation and banned taxis. That forced doctors and nurses to look for rides or walk to work.

For some, a crisis is but an opportunity in disguise. Pharmacies are perennially out of disinfectant gels, masks and medical gloves. Small sewing factories in Bishkek that were until recently turning out clothes have turned their hand to making disposable masks and hospital gowns. Even a modest workshop can turn out 15,000 masks a day. They sell at a 15 soms ($ 0.18) apiece, about three or four times their normal price.

It isn’t just businesses that can profit from a state of emergency. The State Committee for National Security, the latter-day reincarnation of the KGB, on April 1 said it had detained several policemen who were selling the sought-after checkpoint passes at $200 a pop. One cop was reportedly said to be ferrying sex workers, although it is unclear if that story was true.

And what is Kyrgyzstan without spontaneous rabbles of grouching malcontents? Despite the ban on assembling in large groups, 150 or so residents of Issyk-Kul, a village in the eponymous Issyk-Kul region, came out onto the streets on March 31 to complain about how people suspected of having been in contact with coronavirus carriers are being placed under precautionary medical observation in a nearby summer camp. The crowd cooled down after receiving reassurances from local officials.

Those confined to their homes are tormented variously by – in the best-case scenario – boredom or – in the worst – hunger

The first group are the lucky ones. To while away the hours, some are investing in gadgetry. My online advertisement for the used tablet I wanted to sell had languished for five months. Now I am getting multiple calls daily from interested buyers. 

In the end, I sold it to a man who said his school-age children were spending their days watching cartoons and squabbling over who got to use the electronic devices. And so, he had to get the smallest child his own tablet.

Zhazgul Zuridinova, head of the sales department at a large online retailer, said sales of electronics, everything from laptops and tablets to webcams and PlayStation consoles, have gone through the roof. 

Life is a much grimmer affair for those who lived hand-to-mouth off their daily earnings. Their chief worry is not keeping their children entertained, but fed. Kaktus news website says it has been inundated with heart-breaking messages of despair

“I live in a rented apartment with a daughter and a two-year-old granddaughter,” one unnamed woman wrote. “We have nothing with which to pay the rent this month. There is nothing to eat. I worked as a cleaner and as a painter on a construction site. Now everything has been shut down. There is no work. We just don’t know what to do. It is frightening when a small child asks for food, but you have nothing to give them”

It used to be that people could rely on money arriving from relatives working in Russia. But after the price of oil sank like a stone, the ruble took a big hit. And Russia too is now shutting down its economy as a preventative measure against coronavirus. Expatriate laborers are struggling to feed themselves, let alone their families. Hundreds are stranded at Russian airports, waiting for charter flights to carry them home.

The sister of a friend can no longer pay for rent in Moscow and wants to return to Kyrgyzstan, but no flights are expected in the near future. 

And there is mounting frustration that a perceived overly rigorous enforcement of quarantine rules is only going to make things harder. One acquaintance who lives in a village wrote to tell me about how the police are prowling after six in the evening to make sure nobody is out and about. 

“We need people in the melon fields, but they are fining anybody who takes workers out into the fields. The hope is that this will only be until April 15. But if it is any longer, we don’t know what is going to happen,” she wrote. 

The needy are getting some succor from a number of places. The government is dipping into its reserves. People who grew mysteriously wealthy while serving in government posts have distributed foodstuffs and medical masks. Public-spirited volunteers have created the People’s HQ to raise funds and organize essential services, like delivering groceries to the vulnerable. 

This is only the second week of a state of emergency that is scheduled to last until at least April 15, unless that date is rolled over. 

Even with all this going on, there are still some engaging in old-fashioned political scheming. Kyrgyzstan has local and parliamentary elections slated for the fall.

Kurmankul Zulushev, a lawmaker, received intense criticism for seizing the moment by proposing to hold a referendum on October 4, alongside the parliamentary vote, to ask the electorate if they wanted to live under a presidential or parliamentary system. The former choice would ostensibly assure greater powers to the incumbent head of state, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, although he is hardly in need of more authority as it is. 

The indignation poured out on social media, as ever.

“Just as the whole world and all governments are waging a war on a pandemic, our guys could not give a damn about the pandemic. They would rather organize a referendum while the whole country dies of this virus,” Damira Eshmatova wrote in a typical Facebook comment under a news story about the proposal.

Another lawmaker, Altynbek Sulaimanov, raised a more urgent and possibly unanswerable question during a special session of parliament. 

“If this quarantine lasts for more than a month, neither the population nor the country will survive. We just don’t have the means. The government will not be able to feed everyone. We took everybody’s job away. Sure, people may hold out for a month. They have neighbors, they have relatives. But then what?” he said.

This Story Was Originally Published by Eurasianet Eurasianet© 2020

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Top

India News Brief

 1 June, 2020

India Records Highest Single Day Increase of 8,392 Cases

India's COVID-19 Figure Reaches 1,91,041 Death Toll: 5,413

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases:67,655 Total Deaths: 2,286

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 16,794 Total Deaths: 1,038

Madhya Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 8,089 Total Deaths: 350

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 5,501 Total Deaths: 317

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 19,844  Total Deaths: 473

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 8,980 Total Deaths: 194

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 7,823 Total Deaths: 213

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 22,333 Total Deaths: 173

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 3,679 Total Deaths: 62

Telengana: Total Positive Cases: 2,698 Total Deaths: 82 

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 3,221 Total Deaths: 51

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 2,263 Total Deaths: 45

Jammu and Kashmir: 2,446 Total Deaths: 28

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed.

  • Places of worship, hotels will open from June 8 with specific guidelines.

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

 

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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